THIS Christmas, An Garda Síochána and the Road Safety Authority (RSA) are highlighting the dangers of driving the morning after consuming alcohol when motorists’ ability to drive could still be impaired. With festive parties in full swing, anybody who had more than their fill of booze should forget about getting behind the wheel of a vehicle the morning after a late night especially and wait until well into the day when they are confident that they are fit to drive.
An Garda Síochána analysis shows that 11% of fatal collisions for the years 2008 to 2012, in which a driver had consumed alcohol, occurred between the hours of 7am and 11am. Furthermore, Garda statistics indicate that 6% of all Driving Under the Influence (DUI) arrests to date this year have taken place between 7am and 11am.
The highest number of DUI arrests (104) occurred on a Sunday morning representing 26% of all arrests between 7am and 11am. This is followed closely by Monday (90) representing 22% of all morning after arrests. With a lot of people off work between now and the new year, and plenty of partying taking place, a high level of DUI arrests is possible any day of the week, especially if road users don’t heed the appeal from An Garda Síochána and the RSA to act responsibly and safely on the roads throughout the Christmas and New Year period.
Launching the annual seasonal road safety appeal, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Mr Shane Ross TD, said: ‘We know that alcohol remains a significant contributory factor in fatal crashes and is responsible for far too many deaths and injuries on Irish roads.’
Referring to the recent Road Traffic legislation he introduced, Minister Ross pointed out: ‘It’s simply not worth the risk now that new penalties have been introduced which mean drivers detected with a blood alcohol concentration between 50mg and 80mg face losing their licence for three months.’
However, it’s not just about the possibility of losing one’s driving licence. The increased potential for death and injury caused by driver impairment is a lot more serious.
And, it’s not just about drivers of cars, vans and HGVs either; cyclists and motorcyclists are more vulnerable at this darkest time of year, especially early in the morning and at evening time. Drivers need to be more conscious of pedestrians, especially those who leave the car at home to go socialising and may be impaired by alcohol walking home in the middle of the night and not very visible.
Pedestrians should wear high-visibility clothing and should not risk walking the roads in the wee hours if they are under the influence of drink or drugs, as they are a danger to themselves and other road users, and such irresponsible behaviour could lead to fatal consequences. Think ahead when going out socialising and, ideally, arrange a lift home or a taxi.
144 people have died on Ireland’s roads so far in 2018 up to last Monday, according to provisional figures from An Garda Síochána. There have been six fewer deaths this year compared to the same date last year, but that is no consolation for the relatives of those who were killed and the people who were injured, many of them very seriously.
As Minister Shane Ross reminded drivers, ‘if you have done the right thing the night before, don’t forget to do the right thing and make alternative arrangements to travel the morning after.’ Simple advice worth following for everyone’s sake.