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Stout argument

Danny Healy Rae says people who eat big meals and drive are a 'danger on the roads'

RSA boss Moyagh Murdock is before an Oireachtas joint committee today. / YouTube

INDEPENDENT TD DANNY Healy-Rae has said that eating a big meal can be as dangerous as drink driving.

Speaking to the joint Oireachtas committee on Transport, the Kerry TD said that eating is as much a “cause” of accidents as the consumption of a small amount of alcohol.

“Can I just say to you, and many people will agree with me, if you actually eat too much and get in behind the wheel of a car, you are a danger on the road because you are liable to fall asleep after eating a big meal.

“I for one, when I am going home out of here this evening, when I know that, I won’t eat going in behind the wheel because I know what it will do.”

His contention was rejected out of hand by the Road Safety Authority’s Research Manager Velma Burns.

“I disagree that there are other overriding factors because the research shows that when alcohol is consumed when driving, that leads to other risky behaviours.

“I don’t think it’s a fair comparison to talk about the impact of eating a big meal and the impact of alcohol.”

Publicans26/10/2011. Launch Campaign for New Drink Driving File photo. Sam Boal / Sam Boal / /

Earlier, the Road Safety Authority hit out at publicans over their opposition to automatic drink-driving bans.

Moyagh Murdock accused the Vintners’ Association of Ireland (VFI) of “downplaying” the value of the lives of people who died in road accidents.

Speaking as the committee considered an automatic three-month suspension for those caught with 51-80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood, Murdock said that the VFI’s contention that the bans were without merit was wrong.

She said that RSA research showed that eight drivers involved in fatal crashes had blood alcohol levels of between 51-80mg and 17 had lower levels.

“The critical point made by some [is] that there is no justification for the introduction of an automatic disqualification of drivers at BAC levels of 51-80mg, and that the RSA’s Pre-Crash Report provides no evidence that alcohol was a contributory factor in these collisions. I refute this categorically.

The VFI have attempted to downplay the value of the lives of these people, as well as the lives of their families, by reducing them to an insignificant statistic. Presenting the figure of 1.3% is a selective use of the data in an attempt to undermine the real impact of drinking and driving.
All of the evidence confirms that we have a serious problem with alcohol consumption and driving at levels below 80mg. and the current sanction is not working. Intuitively we know that a driver is less like to get behind the wheel after drinking if he or she knows they might lose their licence rather than face a fine and penalty points. We believe this bill will have a strong deterrent effect on would-be drink drivers.

The VFI has argued that the bans are without scientific merit. Kerry TD Danny Healy Rae last month said that they would disproportionately affect rural Ireland.

He said that “three glasses” in a pub was the “only option” many rural people had and said that losing their licence would be a “serious issue”.

Nobody caused a fatality by having three glasses of Guinness drank.

However, Murdock said the VFI’s stance was not impartial.

“The VFI’s is not a forensic analysis of this report, they are a vested interest and it is inappropriate to suggest they are “one side” of the debate; they have conducted a disingenuous and selective interpretation of the report and for the record, are not in full possession of all the facts in coming to their conclusion.”

Read: ‘Nobody caused a fatality by having three glasses of Guinness drank’ – Healy Rae argues against new drink-driving laws

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