Before heading off on their brief Christmas-New Year break, Vodafone Warriors players were out and about in the community assisting Police and Auckland Transport spreading the “drive drink-free” message ahead of the festive season.

A group of NRL squad members helped out at checkpoints set up in Auckland City and Counties Manukau.

More than 3500 vehicles were stopped as part of the exercise and, disappointingly, 31 drivers were summonsed to appear in court on excess breath alcohol charges.

Senior Sergeant Jono Chappell said Police were pleased overall with the behaviour of most motorists who went through the checkpoints. However, the results show there is still much work to be done in reminding motorists not to get behind the wheel if they have been drinking.

Prizes were handed out to sober drivers and passengers who had made arrangements to have a sober driver as a reward for their responsible driving behaviour.

Senior Sergeant Chappell said Police were pleased to continue their partnership with the Vodafone Warriors following a similar operation in August.

“We are proud to be have the Vodafone Warriors alongside us to reiterate the importance of driving drink-free. It is great to see them standing alongside Police and Auckland Transport to take a stand against drink driving,” he said.

“The Christmas/New Year’s period is a heightened risk period for motorists to be driving impaired as a result of the increased planned festivities and holiday period.

“Nearly a third of all fatal traffic crashes have alcohol as a contributing factor. We would like to see a mindset change in our road users to make plans prior to celebrating by either catching a cab/Uber or public transport or make arrangements for a sober person to drive them. 

“Our partnership with the Vodafone Warriors and Auckland transport is a fun and innovative way of rewarding those people who are making those responsible decisions and encouraging others to think in the same way in the future.

“Motorists were pleasantly surprised to see the players handing out the rewards at the checkpoint and Police would like to thank to the Vodafone Warriors and Auckland Transport for making this joint operation possible.”

Out on the beat were Sam Cook, David Fusitu’a, Tohu Harris, Sam Lisone, Issac Luke, Taane Milne, Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, Isaiah Papali’i, Leivaha Pulu, Nate Roache, Ligi Sao and Chris Satae.

Vodafone Warriors CEO Cameron George said the club was pleased to once again play its part in helping to get the sober driving message across to people over the busy festive season.

“As a club we want to do whatever we can to get the drive drink-free message through – particularly during the busy festive season,” he said.

“We need to curb our drink-driving rates and prevent death and injury on our roads and our players were really proud to be out there in our communities last night helping the cause.”

Auckland Transport’s chief executive Shane Ellison said the operation demonstrates that working together to reduce alcohol related crashes is key.

“It’s our number one priority to improve road safety and reduce deaths and serious injuries, and make our roads safer for whānau, friends and colleagues, but we can’t do it alone,” he said.

“We need to all work together to make our roads safer and the Vodafone Warriors are great advocates helping us and Police to spread the message of driving drink-free.”