Drink driving in Ireland

Aviva Survey

More than one in four people have witnessed people drink alcohol before driving in the last 12 months according to new research

One in ten men know someone who got behind the wheel in the last year after drinking “a lot” of alcohol

Those aged between 35 and 44 were most likely to have observed some level of drink driving, followed by those 55+

One in four people have witnessed someone taking a drink before driving their car in the last 12 months, while almost one in ten men (9%) know of someone who got behind the wheel of a car in the last year after consuming “a lot” of alcohol.  These are the findings of a new survey from insurance provider, Aviva Insurance Ireland DAC (Aviva), which polled 1,000 adults nationwide and examined people’s recent experience of drink drivers in the country.

The research, conducted by iReach Insights on behalf of Aviva, found that overall, one in five (19%) said they knew someone who had driven in the last year after consuming “a small amount” of alcohol with a further 7% admitting to knowing someone who had drank “a lot” before doing so.

The findings of the survey come only weeks after the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims and just ahead of the busy Christmas social period, when the Road Safety Authority (RSA) and An Garda Síochána typically renew their appeal to motorists not to drink and drive.

Commenting on the research, Billy Shannon, Aviva said: “Encouragingly, most people (74%) do not know anyone who has driven their car in the last twelve months after having consumed alcohol. But the numbers who do cannot be ignored. A life – or lives - can be lost in a matter of seconds on the roads and all it takes is one mistake by one driver for that to happen.

“Ireland has made huge strides in both drink driving laws and the acceptability of the practice amongst the general public in recent decades. And while we almost have a zero-tolerance policy both legally and socially, challenges remain in getting the message to absolutely everyone about the dangers of drink driving – and we need 100% compliance.

“What was notable from our research was that certain age categories were more likely to have observed some degree of drink driving relatively recently – 32% of those aged between 35 and 44 said they have seen this, while 29% of those aged 55 plus said the same”.

Alcohol affects your judgement, vision, co-ordination, and reaction time when driving – yet the findings from this survey signal that many people may simply not be getting the message about the dangers of drink driving. In the run-up to Christmas, this is even more concerning

Billy Shannon, Aviva

Other highlights from the Aviva survey include:

  • Men were more likely than women to know someone who in the last year, had consumed a lot of alcohol before getting behind the wheel – 9% vs 5% respectively
  • Those aged between 35 and 44 are more likely than other age cohorts to know someone who in the last year had driven their car after consuming a lot of alcohol with 32% of this age group saying so compared to the national average of 26%
  • Those aged between 18 and 24 were least likely to report knowing someone who had driven after drinking a lot of alcohol
  • Almost one in four (24%) women said they knew someone who in the last year, had consumed “a small amount” of alcohol before driving their car.

Aviva points to recent warnings from the RSA that “Ireland is back to pre-Covid levels in terms of people using the roads, speeding and drink driving[1], while almost 950 fixed penalties (fines) for drink driving offences were issued by An Garda Síochána between 1 January 2020 and the end of December 2021[2]  and more than 3,819 drink driving detections were recorded in 2021[3].

Other statistics of note:

  • In total, almost 25,000 people have died on Irish roads since Ireland began recording fatalities in 1959[4] and 86,703 people have been seriously injured, according to recent figures from the RSA.
  • More than a third of those killed on Irish roads had been drinking before the fatality occurred, according to figures released by the RSA in March 2021[5].
  • In total, there were 3,819 detections for drink-driving offences in 2021[6].
  • After Dublin and Cork, Donegal, Galway, Kerry, Cavan/Monaghan, and Kildare were the counties most likely to have fixed penalties issued for drink driving offences.
  • So far this year, a total of 135 people have died on Irish roads[7] - an increase of 19 when compared to the same date last year, while 1,056 people have been seriously injured.

[1] As per interview with Liz O’Donnell on RTE’s Drivetime – see RTE article dated October 26, 2022.
[2] See Table in Appendix below and supporting material from An Garda Síochána.
[3] See response to Parliamentary Question of March 1, 2022.
[4] See recent RSA release from November 15, 2022.
[5] See RSA release dated March 16, 2021.
[6] See response to Parliamentary Question of March 1, 2022.
[7] As per RSA figures dated November 14, 2022.

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