One in four would drive after taking an alcoholic drink

12.00 | 30 October 2014 | | 4 comments

In an annual survey commissioned by the Department of the Environment in Northern Ireland (DOENI), one in four respondents said they would drive after one alcoholic drink.

The Road Safety Monitor Survey, which was published today (30 Oct), also found that one in two passengers would get into a car with a driver who has had one drink.

However, the survey also highlighted that 83% of respondents supported police being able to carry out random breath testing, and 86% thought that police should be able to seize the vehicles of people caught drink driving.

Responding to the findings, Northern Ireland’s road safety minister Mark H Durkan, expressed concern that some people are being “too complacent when it comes to drink driving”.

Mark H Durkan said: “I am concerned that a quarter of drivers would get behind the wheel of a car after one alcoholic drink.

“My message to all drivers is clear, just one drink will impair your driving ability. Drinking alcohol and choosing to drive can have tragic consequences and I would urge everyone to play their part in persuading drivers to never ever drink and drive.

“My Road Traffic Amendment Bill, which is currently being scrutinised by the Environment Committee, will introduce lower drink drive limits, plans for random breathalyser testing, a new penalty regime and powers for roadside check-points.”

The Northern Ireland Road Safety Monitor 2014 is one of a series of research reports looking at attitudes, behaviour and awareness of road safety issues in Northern Ireland. It is commissioned by the DOENI and has been carried out since 1995 by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency.

The survey is used to monitor the effectiveness of the DOENI’s education and advertising strategies, test community support for penalties and enforcement activities, and contributes to road safety policy development.


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    If the law made it an offence to drink any alcohol before driving, then ask the same question and see what the answer would be. It’s because the law enables drivers to drink that we still have so many incidents relating to drink. That is the problem.

    If it means criminalising people as some may say then that is I am afraid up to the drunk driver. The laws are made to protect people and to protect oneself for the sake of the society to live in. For our benefit and the benefit of others.

    bob Craven Lancs
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    Interesting that we are all accepting of the regulations that insist that aircraft pilots, train drivers and ships captains must not have consumed alcohol at all whilst on duty nor for a period of hours prior to their taking the helm because of the risk to themselves and others if they are not absolutely sober in order to conduct their plane, train or ship – whether carrying passengers or cargo. And these all operate in a system that is also monitored by others – air traffic control, signals staff and, in busy shipping areas, coastguards.

    Yet for drivers of road vehicles, who operate in an open and virtually uncontrolled environment with many more potential interactions with others, we set a different and significantly lower standard.

    Could this be because the former are “other people” whom we are happy to restrict whilst the latter just might be “us i.e. you or me” and we do not wish to be similarly restricted?

    Honor Byford, Chair, Road Safety GB
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    I understand the point you are making but I suspect (but don’t know) this press release from DOENI is the start of a campaign to prepare people for a reduction in the drink drive limit (Mr Durkan refers to this in his quote). Under the new limit it is quite possible that some or all of the people who admitted taking an alcoholic drink before driving may be over the limit in the future, and I guess DOENI are keen to make people aware of that.

    Nick Rawlings, editor, Road Safety News
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    Shock horror, many people might act safely, legally and responsibly by staying well below the drink drive limit. This sounds like the start of another “do something” campaign rather than actually improve road safety. The solution is straight forward, more traffic police to enforce the current d/d limit.

    Dave Finney, Slough
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