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Motorists told to avoid alcohol and take extra care ahead of 'Christmas exodus'

Top to toe in tailbacks.

Image: Shutterstock/Predrag Sepelj

MOTORISTS HAVE BEEN advised to avoid alcohol and take extra care over the busy Christmas period. 

The Road Safety Authority has issued a warning about drink-driving, noting that alcohol is a factor in two out of every five fatal road crashes in the lead up to Christmas.

The RSA has noted that motorists may also not be in a position to drive in the morning if they have been drinking the night before.

One in 10 (11%) fatal collisions at this time of year in which a driver had consumed alcohol occur between 7am and 11am.

Meanwhile, almost half of all pedestrians killed on Irish roads have been drinking alcohol.

“Drink-driving at any time of the day is drink-driving, that’s why you must take extra care the following morning if you have been drinking the night before, as you may still have alcohol in your system. 

“It takes roughly one hour for your body to get rid of one unit of alcohol, that’s a half pint, a standard glass of wine, or one shot.

“If you got to bed in the early hours and didn’t get a good night’s sleep, this will magnify the impairing effects of any alcohol in your system. The only cure is time,” a spokesperson said. 

The RSA has issued the following advice for drivers: 

  • Check local weather and traffic reports before setting out on a journey
  • Slow down and keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front
  • Watch out for pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists, and expect the unexpected
  • If you are going out for a drink over the holidays, leave the keys at home – get a taxi, minibus or public transport or designate a driver
  • Don’t forget that time is the only way to get alcohol out of your system – don’t assume you are safe to drive the morning after a night out
  • Remember you should always carry a high-visibility jacket in your car in case your vehicle breaks down and need to get out of it

The RSA has issued the following advice for pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists:

  • Wear a high-visibility vest or armbands and use a torch or proper lighting; cyclists need to make sure their bikes are fitted with front and rear lights
  • If walking to school, especially in rural areas, children need to wear reflective clothing; if cycling to school, ensure your child has front and rear lights on their bike and wears reflective clothing
  • If you plan on drinking, always make a plan for getting home in advance, leave the keys at home – get a taxi, minibus or public transport or designate a driver
  • Motorcyclists should wear appropriate, reflective clothing and a secure helmet; jackets and trousers should give you enough protection from impact, abrasion and weather conditions; use body armour on vulnerable areas such as the back, knees, elbows, shoulders, hips and shins

‘Exodus from cities’

Today is expected to be significantly busier on routes across the country as many people drive home for Christmas.

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According to AA Ireland, traffic levels in Ireland have been at their heaviest in recent years and are unlikely to ease off until Christmas Eve. 

“We expect an exodus from cities across Ireland [today] as the first wave of those travelling home for Christmas make their departure,” Conor Faughnan, AA Director of Consumer Affairs, said. 

We’re urging people to take extra precautions when driving over the coming days as not only will traffic volumes be significantly higher on motorways and in towns across the country, but you will also have a much larger number of motorists driving on routes they’re less familiar with.

“The key message is to slow down, allow extra distance between yourself and other traffic as those less familiar with a specific route could stop or turn unexpectedly, and of course be on the lookout for vulnerable road users when you are travelling this year.”

Last year, AA Rescue, the organisation’s breakdown assistance service, attended an average of 315 breakdowns a day between Thursday 21 December and Saturday 23 December. On New Year’s Eve 2017 and New Year’s Day 2018, AA Rescue attended 402 car breakdowns.

AA Roadwatch has predicted heavy traffic on the following routes in the lead up to Christmas:

  • M50 southbound from J7 Lucan to J17 M11
  • M7 Dublin/Limerick Rd especially between J6 Castlewarden and J10 Naas South (there are ongoing works in place both ways on the N7/M7 between J8 Johnstown and J11 M9 until at least early 2019 and this will add to the usual Christmas delays)
  • N11 Dublin/Wexford Rd from J5 Bray North to Kilmacanogue
  • N40 South Ring Rd in Cork City; particularly between J6 Kinsale Rd and the Dunkettle Interchange
  • N4/M4 Dublin/Sligo Rd from Chapelizod Bypass to J7 Maynooth and also further west through Carrick on Shannon
  • N21 Limerick/Tralee Rd past Patrickswell to Adare and then again to go through Newcastle West and Abbeyfeale
  • N20 Cork/Limerick Rd between Mallow and Buttevant

About the author:

Órla Ryan

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