Alcohol means you're less likely to wear seatbelt
And, our RSA expert points out, alcohol played a big role in number of motorcycle rider deaths
Published 15/06/2016 | 02:30
The RSA's recently published Pre-Crash Report found that alcohol was a contributory factor in 38pc of all crashes between 2008 and 2012. This has shocked many.
However, it is worth noting that this research covered the period when Ireland's road deaths dropped by 42pc to their lowest recorded level. It was also a time when disposable income and economic activity were at their lowest for years. What we saw over this period can be best compared to the tide going out and exposing the rocks. The problem of alcohol on our roads is sticking out more prominently in the context of an overall decline in deaths.
There were a number of other shocking findings in the report too.
The first is the role alcohol has played in both drivers and passengers not wearing seat belts. The second is the large number of motorcycle riders who were killed and found to have had alcohol in their system.
Each year we outline the shocking number of drivers and passengers who were reported as not wearing a seatbelt at the time of a crash. We are always asked why this is so? Surely putting on a seatbelt is something you do automatically? How could so many people still be dying because they were not wearing a seatbelt?
Well the answer was partly answered by the alcohol report which found a significant link between taking alcohol and the likelihood of a seatbelt not being worn.
Almost nine-out-of-10 drivers who had drink taken before a crash, and were found not to be wearing a seatbelt, were killed. Shockingly, 32 of the 96 drivers killed were either partially or completely ejected from the vehicle. The descriptions, given by our Research Manager at the launch of the report, of what happens to the human body when this happens are simply horrific.
When it comes to passengers the situation is equally disheartening. Just over half who had consumed alcohol and were found not to have being wearing a seatbelt, were killed; 26 of the 44 passengers killed were ejected completely from the vehicle. Some were found by the emergency services in trees, or catapulted into fields.
Alcohol, even in small amounts impairs not only your driving but your ability to make other important safety decision like wearing a seatbelt. The same goes for passengers. The findings show the need for people to plan how they are going to get home if heading out for a drink. It's too late when you have drink on board, you'll end up making bad decisions because you are impaired.
The other finding from the pre-crash report that surprised us was the number of motorcycle riders killed and found to have consumed alcohol before the crash; 30pc had alcohol taken.
Half of them had a blood-alcohol level four times the legal limit. A fifth were five times the limit. The profile for alcohol-related motorcycle rider deaths is surprisingly different from your drink driver. The average age profile of a drink driver is 16 to 24; that of a motorcycle rider is 25 to 34.
The largest peak in alcohol-related collisions involving a driver happened between 2am and 3am while they peaked for motorcyclists between 5pm and 6pm.
These afternoon motorcycle crashes typically take place on a Sunday. Almost 60pc of motorcycle deaths occur on a Sunday.
You can see the scenario. A group of bikers heads off for a ride in the summertime. They stop for a lunch, have a few drinks and on the return trip they open up the bike, take a chance overtaking or just go into the bend too fast.
How could you possibly be in control of a motorbike and watch out for potential hazards if you have alcohol on board? The Australians have a great line in their anti-drink driving adverts - If you drink drive you're a bloody idiot.