Drink driving ‘creeping up’ as alcohol involved in third of fatal collisions

The Road Safety Authority chief executive, Moyagh Murdock, has said there is evidence that drink driving is “creeping up” again as latest figures show alcohol was involved in a third of fatal collisions.

A report published by the Road Safety Authority in June for 2008-2012 shows a record of alcohol consumption before the collision in 29% of cases analysed.

Ms Murdock said that latest vehicle collision figures for 2013 showed alcohol was involved in 33% of cases.

“That is very worrying,” she said.

One in 10 fatal collisions happened the day after a night spent consuming alcohol so it was still in the person’s system, even if it was not over the legal limit.

Research showed that 30% of the people killed in collisions where alcohol was involved were under the legal limit.

“So people are fatigued after a big night out, even though the alcohol may have cleared from their system 24 hours later.

“They are tired because they have not had a proper night’s sleep, and that is where driver fatigue can be a factor.”

The RSA wants to push the message that even one drink can impact a person’s ability but there were people killed on Irish road who were four or five times over the legal limit.

Ms Murtagh said drink driving was a bigger problem in younger drivers — those under 24 years.

In a bid to get the drink driving message to younger drivers the learner driver theory test is being changed this autumn to include a new module.

The questions have been drafted, and the updated examination, together with an explanatory booklet, will be launched in in October or November.

“We will have between 20 and 25 new possible questions on drink driving. The test itself will have an additional three questions.”

Ms Murtagh said the questions would be about the impact of alcohol on a person’s ability to control a vehicle.

While older people had got the message about drink driving, younger people never really tuned into it.

“We have to target the younger generation on drink driving. We will start with the updated theory test but there will be a number of other interventions and they will be introduced shortly.”

The RSA’s Back to School campaign, sponsored by ESB Networks, will distribute free high visibility vests to every child starting school next month. Four children aged 14 and under died on Irish roads during the first eight months of the year.


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