20% of Irish Motorists ‘feel unsafe’ on Irish roads


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– Almost 20% of Irish motorists do not feel safe on Irish Roads
-35.7% have driven after more than 2 drinks in the past, but only 3.8% have done so in the last year

The AA’s latest poll of 6,500 Irish motorists shows that almost 20% of drivers feel unsafe on Irish roads. With recent high profile crashes putting road safety back at the top of the public agenda, the finding shows that Irish roads are an intimidating place for ordinary motorists.

“Irish road safety has been something of a success story in recent years.” Says Director of Policy Conor Faughnan. “Fatalities are down by 42% in the last decade. However we still have a long way to go to make our roads the safe environments that they should be and this is evident in the findings of the AA poll.”

When motorists were asked how safe they feel on the road, 4% felt completely safe, 59.9% felt somewhat safe, 17.5% felt somewhat unsafe and 2% said that they felt very unsafe.

There were also 798 detailed comments received on the subject of safety on the roads. Motorists tended to feel safe on motorways but not on secondary roads and not late at night. Fear of encountering a drink-driver was prevalent, and many people reported being regularly intimidated by aggressive tailgating and overtaking maneuvers.

The AA survey also found that while over a third of Irish drivers have at one stage in their lives driven a car having consumed more than two drinks, this is a habit we are leaving behind us. Only 3.8% of drivers have done so within the last year.

“Drinking and driving is still with us, but there is strong evidence that motorists are improving their behaviour overall.” Says Faughnan. “685 detailed comments were received on the subject of drink driving. Most people feel very strongly that it is a disgraceful behaviour that should be severely punished.”

The survey showed 35.7% of motorists admitted to driving after 3 or more drinks, 50.3% after 2 drinks, and 73.8% after one drink. However, the majority of these cases were more than 3 years ago which signifies an improved change in attitude to drink driving in recent years. If we isolate these findings to the last year alone, figures show only 3.8% admitted to driving after more than 2 drinks, 16.9% drove after 2 drinks and 42.2% drove after one drink.

Men were far more likely to drive after more than two drinks compared to women. 5.3% had done so in the last year, compared to only 1.6% of women.

Last month the AA welcomed the passing of the 2010 Road Traffic Bill which paves the way for reducing Ireland’s Drink Drive limit from 80 mgs to 50 mgs, along with a lower 20mg limit for learner drivers and professional drivers. A previous AA Motorists’ panel Poll (October 2009) showed that 65% of Irish motorists supported the proposed reduction.

“50 mgs is the normal limit in most parts of Europe and indeed in most of the developed world.” Says Director of Policy Conor Faughnan. “Ireland is something of an anomaly with its higher 80 mg limit, and this brings us into line.”

The majority of motorists surveyed also felt that the behaviour of Irish drivers had only improved a little in the past 10 years. 40% of Irish motorists believe we have actually disimproved in recent times. The majority found little change in the behaviour of cyclists, motorcyclists, bus drivers and truck drivers in the past decade.

The AA Motorists Panel Survey was carried out between 23rd July and 29th July. 6,700 Irish motorists took part.