Alcohol is a factor in two out of five fatal crashes in lead up to Christmas

The shocking figure was revealed at the launch of the RSA and Garda’s annual Christmas and New Year road safety campaign.

Alcohol is a factor in two out of five fatal crashes in the lead up to Christmas , new data has shown - writes dublinlive.ie.

The Road Safety Authority analysis of Garda investigation files for collisions that resulted in deaths in November and December was published on Thursday.

The force revealed 7,428 drivers have been arrested this year on suspicion of driving under the influence – up 12% from 2016.

Transport Minister Shane Ross said: “I am currently bringing legislation through the Dail that will introduce an automatic disqualification for people who are caught drink-driving and my department has also started work on tackling issues involving speeding offences and fines.

“But I would urge everyone, please do not drink and drive and keep to the speed limits at all times. Let’s keep our roads safe this Christmas.”

The shocking figure was revealed at the launch of the RSA and Garda’s annual Christmas and New Year road safety campaign.

Some 292 road users were killed in the last two months of the year from 2008 to 2016.

The average figure is 16 for both November and December and statistics also show Dublin, Cork and Galway had the highest numbers of fatalities, accounting for 32% of the total.

A third of crashes were between 4pm and 8pm, while 23% happened from noon to 4pm and 22% during the hours of midnight to 6am.

Deaths occur more often on Sundays (21%) when the most dangerous time is from midnight to 6am.

Drivers represent almost half (47%) of all road users killed in November or December, while pedestrians make up 26% and passengers 18%. To date this year, 143 people have been killed on Irish roads – a decrease of 26 on the previous 12 months.

RSA chair Liz O’Donnell added: “Crash data shows alcohol could be a factor in almost half [46%] of pedestrian deaths.

“Too many people have lost their lives in the past by walking home drunk on roads with poor visibility. Please don’t take the chance.”

Garda assistant commissioner Michael Finn added: “The gardai will not just be targeting drink-drivers at night or in the early hours of the morning, but also during morning rush hour as many drivers could still be over the legal limit if they have been drinking the night before.”

RSA chief Moyagh Murdock said: “Please remember 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.”

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