independent

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Demonising drink drivers doesn't make roads safer

Letters to the Editor

Sir, Some time ago the Healy Rae's were made fun of because they suggested that a pint or two could be good for you. They were rubbished in the newspapers, radio and television.

Even last week a German television crew flew all the way here and then made their way to Rae's Pub in Kilgarvan to interview the owner. The programme appeared like a skit on the Irish to prove just how stupid we are.

Programmes have also shown just how dangerous driving with drink is. Tests have proved that diminished reactions due to alcohol intake can cause accidents. Of this there is no doubt but I would question whether these tests can have the same results for everyone. Heavy people, light people, male, female, first time drinkers, casual drinkers and heavy drinkers will all have different tolerances to alcohol. Someone who is working in a stressful position all day could well drive better having had a drink or two to help him/her to relax when driving home later on.

The drinker has been penalized constantly - and in my estimation unfairly - as being the greatest hazard on the road today. Meanwhile there is little consideration taken for someone driving while they are so tired that they can barely keep their eyes open and even less thought of those who drive after having an argument and are still steaming mad at what has happened. Even people caught for recklessly endangering all other road users as well as themselves by speeding are merely fined rather than being put off the road for years even though they may be a greater danger than someone with a few drinks in them. Even drug-taking drivers seem to get off more lightly than those who have a couple of pints.

We are fed a lot of statistics about the number of road accidents involving drink but it seems we hear a lot less about the number of accidents that occur where no drink, or only a low level of alcohol, is involved. For example, it would be good to know how many serious accidents have occurred as a result of someone driving home with three drinks taken in rural areas. Until we have clear and positive information on these and many other questions how can we positively say what is right for all.

Why should the drinker be put off the road while those driving while falling asleep, those driving recklessly and others not fit to drive remain on our roads.

We will have to think longer and harder before punishing one group and leaving the others off - after all are we not all equal under the law?

Sincerely,

Michael O'Meara,

Faha,

Killarney.

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