Drink driving laws cause more changes in rural areas

Changes to drink driving laws affect rural dwellers most, with people living in the countryside reporting almost 20% more behaviour change than their urban counterparts.

Drink driving laws cause more changes in rural areas

Changes to drink driving laws affect rural dwellers most, with people living in the countryside reporting almost 20% more behaviour change than their urban counterparts.

While 22% of rural dwellers switched to non-alcoholic beer so they could drive home that night or the next morning, only 16% of adults in urban areas reported this change in behaviour.

And although 50% of people living rurally used alternative transport rather than driving on a night out, 46% of those living in urban areas did so.

There was a 10-point difference between town and country drivers who planned to drive the next morning, with 36% of rural dwellers drinking less the night before in preparation compared to 46% of urban dwellers.

However, while the research showed that 64% of Irish adults believe that there should be an official recommended breathalyser for personal use, Drinkaware, the national charity working to prevent and reduce alcohol misuse which commissioned the research, cautions against their use.

The nationally representative survey, conducted by Behaviour and Attitudes with 1,000 adults on behalf of Drinkaware, asked drivers to identify any changes they had made to their driving behaviour in the period January to June 2019, three months after the legislation came into effect.

The updated Road Traffic (Amendment) Act 2018 which came into effect in October of that year increased the penalty for drivers detected with a blood alcohol concentration between 50mg and 80mg to three months disqualification from driving plus a €200 fine.

Drinkaware says the research indicates that new drink driving legislation is positively influencing driver behaviour in rural areas.

Drinkaware CEO Sheena Horgan said: “The updated legislation appears to be having the desired effect.

“People contact Drinkaware every day with queries about alcohol and driving, in particular when it is safe to drive the morning after and for information on breathalysers for personal use.

“Consumers need to be mindful that most off-the-shelf breathalysers are not developed using the same medical and safety technology standards as those used by officials like the gardaí. While they can be useful for information purposes, the results should not be taken as a clear indication that you are under the limit.

“Drinkaware strongly supports official advice from the Road Safety Authority and An Garda Síochána that any amount of alcohol will affect your ability to drive.

“Communities throughout the country have witnessed the devastation drink driving can bring and it is time for the consistent one in 10 drivers who continue to get behind the wheel after consuming alcohol to cease this dangerous behaviour.”

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