One in three would drink drive
Older motorists found most likely to flout road safety law, poll reveals
ONE in three drivers still thinks it is acceptable to drink and drive, despite alcohol being a factor in almost a third of all fatal crashes.
Older men living in Connacht and Ulster are least likely to change their behaviour, with two out of every 10 questioned for a poll admitting to driving a vehicle after taking two or more drinks.
The findings of a Road Safety Authority (RSA) survey come as Transport Minister Noel Dempsey attempts to reduce the blood/alcohol limit despite stiff opposition from Fianna Fail backbenchers.
Assuming legislation currently before the Dail is passed, the limit will fall from 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood to 50mg.
This means that motorists risk being over the limit if they drive after having even one drink. Conviction means an automatic driving ban.
The RSA survey showed a hardening of people's attitudes in relation to drink driving, with two out of every three motorists (65pc) questioned saying it was unacceptable.
But the poll of drivers conducted by Millward Brown Lansdowne, a market research company, showed that two out of every 10 drivers said having one drink -- which would keep them under the current legal limit -- was acceptable.
The poll showed that seven out of 10 supported a reduction in the drink-driving limits, with women (79pc) particularly in favour.
Munster was the province which was most in favour of the new limits with 76pc, while just 17pc voiced their disapproval of the measures.
"The results are astonishing and show that there has been a profound change in people's attitudes and behaviour over the past decade," said RSA chairman Gay Byrne.
"We can see clearly the results of such safer attitudes, because in parallel with these improvements, we have witnessed a corresponding drop in road deaths and injuries."
He also criticised older drivers who refused to stop drinking, saying they had to think about the choices they were making.
"While the majority of people are acting responsibly, there is a minority that stubbornly refuses to heed the message not to drink and drive," Mr Byrne said.
"To these people I would say, stop and think about the choices you make and the choices you could be forcing on others, if, God forbid, you were responsible for a crash.
"Could you live with the shame of being responsible for a crash, the stigma of losing your licence or being responsible for someone's death?"
The findings were in stark contrast to those just a decade ago, when less than a third agreed with the statement: there is no amount of alcohol that you can drink if driving.
In 2006, almost half of all drivers (49pc) agreed.
The changes in attitudes are reflected in a fall in the numbers killed on the roads. In 2001, 411 people died.
In 2006 the number killed fell to 365 and last year deaths fell to their lowest level on record when 239 died.
Meanwhile, cars with tinted windows and modified exhausts will fail the NCT from next month unless they comply with strict new regulations, it emerged yesterday.
The changes to the test come into force from April 1 and will also result in rear fog lamps, reverse lamps, electronic warning lights and rear registration plate lamps being tested.
Tyres will fail if an 'E' or 'e' is not clearly visible on them to ensure that they comply with minimum standards for thread depth.