Big name stars have come together to ensure Essex football fans are coming home safely this year.

Today, the Safer Essex Roads Partnership has launched its “Euros Football Friend” anti-drink drive campaign across the county, with the aim to lower the number of unnecessary road deaths due to drink driving.

A series of infomercials have been released, in line with the first Euros match, around how planning a journey ahead of football celebrations can make all the difference between a good night out, a police cell, or worse.

The first film features former England goalkeeper and legend David James MBE, supporting young men to make the right decision before heading to the pub, by encouraging the use of taxis which will be working overtime, and to watch out for their friends on an evening out.

Close to the heart - Former goalie David James MBEClose to the heart - Former goalie David James MBE (Image: PA)

David James said: “This campaign is one close to my heart, because I've experienced first-hand how drink driving can affect lives. My friend was hit by a drunk driver and suffered life-changing injuries.

“I urge everyone in Essex to show their support for the campaign, by sharing the films and spreading the campaign’s message that drink-driving is not okay, and it is not worth the risk.

“It can be easily avoided by having a plan in place, before you start drinking. Enjoy the Euros and stay safe.”

'Not worth the risk'

The second film stars actor, Joe Thomas, best known for his roles in comedies, including The Inbetweeners, which features the campaign’s “Football Friend” strapline.

It illustrates the alternative transport options available to Euro revellers, including DigiGo, a shared public transport service which offers on-demand or pre-bookable travel in parts of Essex, and the Travel Essex app, which provides users real time travel information to make an informed decision on their journey.

Chelmsford-born Joe Thomas said: “I wanted to get involved with this campaign because not only am I from Essex, but I am also, sadly, the same demographic as those overrepresented in drink drive collisions in Essex.

“The campaign message is so important- the risk is high, with very little reward, so I would ask everyone to think ahead before drinking, be that football friend during the Euros and share these films and graphics with your mates.

“Zero really is the only acceptable number of deaths and serious injuries on Essex roads.”

Performing - Inbetweeners star Joe Thomas at the Little Smash Comedy event in Southend (Image: Gaz de Vere)

The Euros safer journey concept was a collaborative initiative, from the safer roads partnership's media team, Sarah Hammill, and Caroline Churchouse, in a bid to help people plan their journeys safely and highlighting the importance of looking after your friends.

Communications manager, Caroline Churchouse, said: “We were keen to send a positive message out to football fans this summer. We want them to have fun, but to be aware of the risks of drink driving.

“An analysis of collision data shows that young men are sadly most affected by drink driving, with at least 258 men under the age 40 killed or seriously injured in drink driving crashes on Essex roads, over the last ten years.

“This campaign forms a strand in our strive to Vision Zero, the shared objective of no death or serious injury on Essex roads, by 2040.

“We hope Essex fans take time to plan their journey, pre-pint, and match.”