Drink-driving and the law
Sir, – The claim that the Government faces “fierce opposition” from the drinks industry in relation to implementing stricter rules around drink-driving (Editorial, January 10th) is untrue. In fact, Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland (ABFI), the representative body for drinks manufacturers and suppliers in Ireland, is totally opposed to drink-driving. We appreciate that much work has been done by the Road Safety Authority and the Government to tackle drink-driving, resulting in a cultural shift and a sharp decline in road deaths, and fully support measures to further tackle this issue. We welcome proposed measures from Minister for Transport Shane Ross, which will ensure that those convicted of drink-driving will automatically be disqualified from driving. We support all effective legislation that will tackle drink-driving in addition to greater enforcement of existing laws. – Yours, etc,
Federation of Ireland,
Lower Baggot Street,
A chara, – I believe that a stellar example to the whole country on the dangers of drinking and driving would be a complete ban on the availability of alcohol within the Houses of the Oireachtas. – Is mise,
Sir, – I have personally no connection with what your editorial of January 10th calls the “drinks lobby” and hardly ever go into a pub. If I were persuaded that increasing the penalty for low-level drink driving would save a single life, I would probably support it. Unfortunately there is no evidence for this.
When in 2011, the permitted blood alcohol for drivers in Ireland was reduced from 80 mg per 100 millilitres of blood to 50, Ireland already had a relatively low level of road accident deaths (4.7 per 100,000 in 2010), about the same as Germany and Denmark, but well below France (6.4) and Belgium (8.1). The UK, which also permitted 80 mg, had one of the lowest rates of all (3.7). Three years later, the Irish figure had fallen to 4.1. It is hard to believe that this had anything to do with the new drink-driving laws, since road accident deaths had fallen in most countries. Most strikingly, in the UK, which had stayed with the 80 milligram limit, the rate had fallen to 2.8, the lowest in Europe except for Sweden (2.7).
The editorial cites an estimate that seven or eight road fatalities a year involve drivers with these low blood alcohol levels. This is hardly a health crisis – there are roughly 30,000 deaths each year in Ireland. Moreover, this does not mean that the alcohol is the cause of even the majority of these accidents, still less that increasing the penalty will reduce their number.
The reason that rural TDs oppose the proposed measure is more likely to be that for many of their constituents, a pub may be the only accessible source of recreation outside the home, and that many are also dependent on a car for everyday work and shopping, rather than political cowardice in the face of alcohol lobbyists. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – In response to “Irish Whiskey distilleries see visitor numbers rise 11 per cent” (January 9th), may I correct for your readers the inaccurate claims from the alcohol industry that the Public Health Alcohol Bill will “severely constrain” the promotion and advertising of distillery visitor centres?
There are no such provisions in the proposed Bill. – Yours, etc,
Head of Communications
Alcohol Action Ireland,