270,000 drivers on the road last year had been drinking

Bank holiday worries persist

Gavin White

The Road Safety Authority has warned "drink driving is still a big problem" and has urged people not to take to the wheel while under the influence ahead of the bank holiday weekend.

On the same weekend last year, two people were killed and 17 seriously injured in crashes.

Moyagh Murdoch, RSA chief executive, said: "Summer is always a big worry for us because we do traditionally see an increase in deaths, especially in July and August and then particularly at the bank holiday."

Research by An Garda Siochana and the RSA revealed that 73pc of Irish motorists claim that having no alcohol before driving is the only way to be safe.

Some 10pc of Irish motorists have driven after consuming alcohol in the past 12 months, which equates to just under 270,000 people.

"For under 24s, the number who have admitted to taking alcohol in the last 12 months has actually doubled since the last time we carried out that survey," said Ms Murdoch.

"It's just indicative of Irish society. We all welcome the uplift in the economy but clearly as people have more money in their pockets, they're back in their cars and they are taking chances."

John O'Mahony, director of behaviour and attitudes at An Garda Siochana, said the 10pc figure was "huge" and drink driving was "evident across every single demographic".

"It's also apparent that when we look at these motorists it isn't just a single incident typically; they had a level of comfort in drinking alcohol before they drove on a reasonably regular basis," he said.

The research also suggests that high-risk drivers, especially those who admit to using a mobile phone while driving, are twice as likely to have admitted to drink driving in the past 12 months.


Meanwhile, Ms Murdoch said she was frustrated that two cardboard cut-outs of Mrs Doyle from 'Father Ted', which were part of a campaign to get drivers to drink caffeine, were stolen in Mayo.

"It is very disappointing that people see that as a bit of a joke to remove the signs," she told the Herald.

"The message behind that campaign is if you're feeling tired, stop and have a coffee or a cup of tea because the caffeine will wake you up.

"The publicity around it might alert people to make sure they're not fatigued."