As citizens of modern Ireland, we need to firmly outline what is acceptable on our roads and emphasize that driving after even one drink is not welcome. To support this, Allianz has commissioned an extensive survey aimed at shining a light on Ireland’s attitudes towards drink and drug driving. The research, conducted by Red C Research in April 2019, involved 1,007 respondents of different ages and genders, from various regions and social classes throughout Ireland.
Some of the findings make for a jarring read as more than one third of those polled say they have taken to the wheel after a drink and 1 in 5 say they’ve done so after more than just one. This is despite 93% acknowledging that drinking impairs driving. Worse still is that almost three quarters of those polled know someone who has driven after one drink and 61% know someone who has driven after multiple. The survey found that men, those living in Dublin, and retirees are most likely to have a drink and drive. It was also revealed that almost half of those surveyed don’t know the current drink driving limits or what happens if someone is caught driving drunk or high.
Driving Under the Influence of Drugs
Further worrying findings were that 5% of those polled had driven after taking illegal drugs, while 24% admit to knowing someone who has driven on drugs. Of those surveyed, 11% admitted to having operated a car under the influence of legal medication that has the potential to impair their driving and a frightening 31% claim to know someone who has driven after taking said medication.
Despite this, 84% of those polled agreed that driving under the influence of any drugs or medication, legal or illegal, has the potential to impair driving. Students, people living in Dublin, and those aged 18-24 were more likely to agree that driving under the influence of legal or illegal drugs has the potential to impair driving. Conversely, in the overall survey 1 in 5 agreed that driving under the influence of legal medication that could impair driving is acceptable. According to the data, those who have a dismissive attitude towards the impact of drugs and alcohol on driving are more likely to have admitted drink driving.
Awareness is Lacking
A worrying lack of knowledge about current legislation was also uncovered as just under half of those polled didn’t know what happens if someone is caught driving while under the influence of drugs or medication, despite 4 in 5 knowing what happens if they’re caught drink driving. The poll found that those who are unemployed are less likely to agree that alcohol may impair driving and are more likely to endorse subjectivity of the impact of substances. While those living in rural areas and Munster are less likely to agree that driving shortly after one drink can impair a person’s ability to drive. The survey found that 3 in 5 believe that different people have different tolerance levels for drugs and alcohol, with those living in rural areas more likely to endorse this statement.
Since the introduction of the Road Traffic Act 2010 in late 2018 the drink-driving limit has reduced from 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood to 50mg. It’s lower still for novice, learner, and professional drivers at 20mg, meaning that a single alcoholic drink can now push many motorists over the limit. In 2018, Gardaí arrested a staggering 8,753 drivers on suspicion of drink or drug driving1. A year later there has been an almost 20% increase in drink and drug driving arrests, with more than 1,400 motorists detained for driving under the influence in the first two months of 2019.
Despite the new laws, 23% of those polled don’t think that driving after just one drink is likely to impair their ability to drive, while 21% agreed that driving while taking legal medication is acceptable even if it may affect their ability to drive. Operating a vehicle after taking a substance that can impair driving is not worth the risk and endangering other people’s lives for convenience is dangerous, unethical and illegal. Think of all other road users and remember that the best way to get home is safely; so if you’re driving, don’t drink and if you’re going to drink, don’t drive.
Allianz urges all motorists to find the courage to say no to ‘just the one’.
Arrive safe, arrive sober.