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The dangers of driving the morning after consuming alcohol

The Road Safety Authority (RSA) and An Garda Síochána have appealed to all road users to act responsibly and safely on the roads throughout the Christmas and New Year period.

Drivers have been especially warned of the dangers of driving the morning after a night of drinking when their driving could still be impaired by alcohol.

Analysis of Garda Síochána Investigation Files for fatal collisions, by the RSA, shows that 11 per cent of fatal collisions in which a driver had consumed alcohol, occurred between the hours of 07:00-11:00.

Meanwhile, An Garda Síochána statistics indicate that six per cent of all Driving Under the Influence (DUI) arrests to date this year have taken place between 07:00-11:00. The highest number of DUI arrests, at 104, occurred on a Sunday morning representing 26 per cent of all arrests between 07:00-11:00. This is followed closely by Monday, at 90 arrrests, representing 22 per cent of all morning after arrests.

Speaking at the launch of the annual Christmas and New Year Road Safety Appeal, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Mr. Shane Ross TD said: “The focus of our appeal this year is to warn the public about the dangers of driving the morning after consuming alcohol. 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. I appeal to all those socialising over the Christmas and New Year period to do so responsibly and never, ever, drink and drive, including the morning after. 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. So 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.”

Ms. Liz O Donnell, Chairperson, Road Safety Authority said: “Drink driving is a behaviour that must no longer be tolerated in our society and for that to happen people need to know all the facts. Drink driving at any time of the day or day of the week is drink driving, which is why you must take extra care the following morning if you have been drinking the night before. If you have been on a drinking session the night before and got to bed very late you could still have alcohol in your system. As we can see from our analysis of Garda forensic investigation files, the morning after is a risk zone for alcohol related fatal crashes as 11 per cent of fatal collisions in which a driver had consumed alcohol, occurred between the hours of 07:00-11:00.”

At the press conference to launch this year’s Christmas and New Year road safety campaign, the RSA showcased its new Oculus Rift virtual reality (VR) experience. Using VR technology the RSA has been able to put someone in the shoes of a driver who makes a foolish decision to drink and drive and experience first-hand the terrible consequences of drink driving.

Commenting on the launch of the new RSA virtual reality drink driving experience, Ms. O’Donnell said: “the new VR experience is designed to show road users the severe consequences of getting behind the wheel after consuming alcohol. The use of new and emerging technology to spread important road safety messages is a key tool in changing behaviour. We demonstrated this technology at the National Ploughing Championships in September and received excellent feedback from attendees who tried it. By using virtual reality technology, we are exposing people to hazardous experiences in safe circumstances.”

Assistant Commissioner David Sheahan, Garda Roads Policing Bureau said: “An Garda Síochána will be launching its six week Christmas and New year road safety campaign beginning this weekend. This will include a focus on Mandatory Intoxicant Testing checkpoints around the country to deter people from driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs or a combination of both. With just over one in ten alcohol related fatal collisions happening the morning after An Garda Síochána will also be focusing operations to address this issue. Indeed, six per cent of all DUI arrests to date this year have occurred in this period. Please don’t risk it – keep your loved ones and our roads safe this Christmas and New Year.”

Professor Denis Cusack, Director of the Medical Bureau for Road Safety said: “While many people accept the dangers associated with drink driving, some people often overlook the potential dangers of driving the morning after drinking the night before. It’s important to remember that if you’ve been drinking the night before, there could still be alcohol in your system the morning after. There’s no quick fix – nothing can help to remove alcohol from your body, only time. Remember that there is no safe level of alcohol you can consume before driving and you take a serious gamble trying to guess how much would still keep you under the limit for driving. Don’t take the risk and never ever drink and drive.”

The HSE’s website is an excellent resource for people who are looking for advice on how to cut down on their alcohol intake and includes information on alcohol and driving.

136 people have died on Ireland’s roads to date in 2018 according to provisional figures from An Garda Síochána. There have been three fewer deaths this year compared to the same date last year.