RSA Survey Shows Highest Ever Support for Zero Tolerance on Drink Driving

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A new survey of motorists attitudes conducted by Millward Brown Lansdowne for the Road Safety Authority (RSA) in November 2009 shows a significant hardening of people’s attitudes in relation to drinking and driving in Ireland

The results, which are published,  in the run up to St. Patrick’s Day when road safety efforts have traditionally focused on drink driving, show that two thirds (65%) of drivers report that there is simply no amount of alcohol that you can drink if driving.

This attitude is in stark contrast to the results of similar studies conducted in 2000 when less than a third (30%) supported this view and in 2006 when almost half of drivers (49%) supported the fact that you should never, ever drink and drive.*

Commenting on the results of the research, Road Safety Authority Chairman Mr. Gay Byrne said that “The results are astonishing and show that there has been a profound change in people’s attitudes and behaviour over the past decade. A clear majority of people now believe that drink driving is not normal behaviour, which is the polar opposite of the attitudes that were prevalent in Irish society ten years ago. To have achieved such a turnaround in attitudes in such a short period of time is remarkable and something we should all be proud of.”

“We can see clearly the results of such safer attitudes, because in parallel with these improvements, we have witnessed a corresponding drop in road deaths and injuries”, said Mr. Byrne.

He added that “While the change is down to the fact that more of us decided to take greater responsibility for our behaviour, the role of the various government road safety strategies must also be acknowledged. Ten years of delivering an uncompromising message on drink driving on an all island basis coupled with the introduction of effective enforcement powers and harsher penalties have brought about this change.”

While there has been a significant drop in the numbers saying it’s acceptable to drink drive, the new RSA research reveals that 2 out of 10 drivers reported it was acceptable after one drink. Furthermore 1 in 10 drivers reported that they had driven a vehicle after consuming two or more drinks in the past twelve months. The profile of these drivers is predominantly male, most likely aged 65+ and living in Connaught / Ulster.

Commenting on this Mr. Byrne said “While the majority of people are acting responsibly, there is a minority that stubbornly refuses to heed the message not to drink and drive. To these people I would say, stop and think about the choices you make and the choices you could be forcing on others, if god forbid you were responsible for a crash. Could you live with the shame of being responsible for a crash, the stigma of losing your licence or being responsible for some one’s death?”

Public reaction to the proposed reductions to the drink driving limits was also surveyed. The results of this show that support for a lowering of the drink drive limit remains high with 7 out of 10 polled supporting the Government’s move to lower the legal limit for driving from 0.8 milligrams to 0.5 milligrams. A similar number (73%) also backs the move to legislate for a reduction in the limit to 0.2 milligrams for learner and professional drivers.

Not surprisingly the strongest support for these measures was from women (79%). Munster was the province most in favour of the new limits with 76% in favour of the move to 0.5 milligrams. Only 17% voiced their disapproval of the measures.

For further information on the facts and myths on drink driving visit www.drinkdriving.ie

Key Anti Drink Driving Measures in the last decade

2000    First all island anti drink driving shock advert ‘Shame’ is aired on TV
2005    Second all island anti drink driving shock advert ‘Just One’ is aired on TV
2006    Introduction of Mandatory Alcohol Testing
2007    Introduction of stricter penalties for drink driving offences
2009    Draft legislation to lower the drink driving limit published
2010    Anticipated that legislation to lower the drink driving limit will be passed.