Reader's Blog: Drink driving figures are unsettling

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The latest garda statistics again showing an increase in drink driving arrests — ‘Over 600 arrested for drink-driving in February’, (breakingnews.ie, April 4) — make for unsettling reading. We know that any amount of alcohol will affect your ability to drive safely, which makes this year’s steadily rising drink driving rates all the more disheartening.

And yet at Drinkaware we remain convinced there is an appetite for positive change. This is evident from our interactions with individuals, organisations, the media and decision-makers. Incoming queries relating to alcohol and driving have doubled since November and are still growing.

Specifically, people are seeking clarity on the time it takes to process alcohol, when it is safe to drive the following day and the efficacy of personal breathalysers. These social media interactions, emails and phone calls signify to us that people will change their behaviour when presented with the correct information and a means to do so.

The Drinkaware Index research highlights a critically low awareness of what constitutes a standard drink, or indeed the low-risk alcohol guidelines, among Irish adults. In a drink driving context, knowing this information is crucial as it can serve as a useful guide to help people to develop a clearer idea of when they are safe to drive the following day.

In light of these statistics, understanding what a standard drink is has never been more important.

It makes sense then, that the most common question we are asked is, “How many drinks can I have and still be OK to drive?”.

The simple answer is none but we would rather be asked this question than not. On average, it takes one hour to process one standard drink (half pint of beer/100ml glass of wine/35.5ml pub measure of spirits).

This will only provide an estimation of the time it is safe to drive due to the varying factors that will affect this, but still we would rather share the information than not.

No societal issue can be solved in isolation. Positive change can only happen through collective efforts so, working alongside the minister for transport and the department, to educate people about road safety, our hope is to see a reduction in these figures in the near future.

Sheena Horgan CEO

Drinkaware

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