Danny Healy-Rae 'claims big meal before driving as dangerous as alcohol'

Danny Healy-Rae
Danny Healy-Rae

Eating a big meal before getting behind the wheel of a car is as dangerous as drink-driving, Independent TD Danny Healy-Rae has claimed.

The Kerry politician has hit out at the Road Safety Authority today, saying it is on a "crusade to isolate people further in rural Ireland".

Mr Healy-Rae, who is a publican, objects plans to introduce a mandatory three-month driving ban for motorists caught with a blood alcohol level of 51-80mg of alcohol per 100ml. Currently such an offence is punished with a fine and penalty points.

Speaking at the Oireachtas Committee on Transport, Mr Healy Rae said: "Can I say to you, and many people will agree with me. If you eat too much and get in behind the wheel of a car, then you're a danger on the road because you are likely to fall asleep after eating a big meal.   

"I for one, anyway, when I go home late this evening, when I know that, I don't eat going in behind the wheel because I know what it will do."

CEO of the RSA Moyagh Murdock said it was "disingenuous to say there is no evidence [that] alcohol was a factor in collisions where the toxicology showed levels 51-80".

"It shows a lack of understanding of the effects of alcohol on the body, or an unwillingness to accept the facts in the first instance but also a lack of understanding of the cognitive skills required to safely complete the driving task."

Ms Murdock also hit out at the Vintners Federation, who she accused of attempting to "downplay the value of the lives" lost on the roads by "reducing them to an insignificant statistic".

"You have all heard the light-hearted jokes about the effect of alcohol on one's self-awareness - after even one drink, you think your jokes become funnier, you think talking louder is better, you send texts to people you shouldn't, you convince yourself you're not a bad dancer, alarmingly you think you'll be grand to drive home after a drink or won't.

"And anyone who tells you different is lying. Your driving becomes impaired just like all those other more innocent actions," Ms Murdock said.