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Road users urged to take care over Christmas period after 128 deaths so far in 2021

Road Safety Authority spokesman Brian Farrell said for every one person killed on the roads there are also around 10 people seriously injured.
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Alan Sherry

ROAD users are being urged to be extra careful over the Christmas and New Year period in an effort to stop more families being plunged into grief before the year is out.

There had been 128 road deaths in Ireland this year as of last Thursday with each death having a lasting impact on family, friends and the wider community.

Road Safety Authority spokesman Brian Farrell said for every one person killed on the roads there are also around 10 people seriously injured.

This week he pleaded with road users to be safe over the Christmas period.

“Road deaths particularly this time of year which is associated with family and family gatherings it’s a really difficult time of year for anyone who has lost a loved one. We don’t want to see anyone being visited with death and serious injury over the Christmas and New Year period.

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“We’ve lost 128 people on the roads to date this year and the year is not over. Statistically is the likelihood is there will be people unfortunately who suffer serious injuries and we may even have further road deaths.

“It’s something we want to avoid at all costs and road deaths and serious injuries are preventable.

"It means just remembering that using the roads is one of the most dangerous things we do every day but because it is something we do every day I think we’ve become complacent.”

He said there are key things road users can do such as drivers watching out for vulnerable road users, making good decisions, sticking to the speed limit and not driving while impaired through drugs alcohol or fatigue.

He said this time of year is a time when more alcohol is being consumed so drink driving was unfortunately more likely.

The garda enforcement blitz for Christmas started at the end of November and on the 14th of December they had already seen a 40pc increase in detections for driving under the influence.

“It shows the problem of drink driving is very much there on our roads and the gardai are detecting drivers.”

He urged those who are heading out to plan how they are going to get home and be aware of how much they are consuming.

“Covid has had an impact on the patterns of drinking. If the pubs and restaurants are closing at 8pm the likelihood is people will be drinking at home where people are likely to be more generous when pouring out servings.

“The risk there is people will drink and driver and will be consuming more alcohol than they would in a bar or restaurant. It also highlights a danger zone the morning after. You could very well be over the limit the morning after.

“It is a danger zone because about one in 10 alcohol-related collisions are happening the morning after.

“The body gets rid of a unit of alcohol roughly in an hour. One unit would roughly be half a pint of beer, a standard measure of spirits or a glass or wine.

“If you had three pints it’s going to take six hours to get out of your body. Using that as a calculation you can estimate when you’re going to be safe to drive the next day. If you’re going to bed really late and have consumed a lot of alcohol you may not be safe to drive until lunchtime or even after lunchtime the next day.”

He said people needed to be aware that a glass of wine poured in a house in generally a lot more generous than what you’d get in a pub or restaurant so will take longer to get out the system.

“That’s the concern we have. People may be making the right decision and not driving the night they’re consuming alcohol but not realising the next day they could still be over the limit. Drink driving is drink driving no matter what time of the day or week it is.

“We don’t want people who are making the right choices the night before making the wrong the choice the day after.”

He also warned how fatigue is a significant danger on the roads

“Fatigue can also play a part as well. According to a French study, fatigue doubles the impairment effect of alcohol.

“We have a tendency to fight sleep at the wheel. That’s the tendency especially among men. Fatigue is your body screaming at you that you need a rest. A 15 minute nap is a great tactic to stave off fatigue.”

He said having a cup of coffee before and not after the nap can also help.

“We say get a cup of coffee beforehand. It takes about 20 minutes or half an hour for the caffeine to kick in so when you wake up the caffeine is kicking in so you get the double benefit of the nap and the caffeine.”

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