Between 2008 and 2015, a staggering half of all pedestrians killed on Irish roads, whose deaths were analysed by either the Garda or the coroner, had taken alcohol. Some of these pedestrians were four times over the legal driving limit.

The analysis from the Road Safety Authority of Ireland (RSA) revealed there were 313 pedestrians killed between 2008 and 2015. Of these, 215 were tested for the presence of alcohol and half (105) tested positively. Twenty four of these pedestrians who died were found to have had blood alcohol readings of at least 200 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood, which is four times the legal driving limit. Twenty eight pedestrians had readings higher than 250 mg/ml: five times over the legal driving limit.

The gender of pedestrians who died after drinking alcohol were overwhelmingly male (88%) and they predominantly died on rural roads (60%). However, the majority of pedestrian fatalities overall took place on urban roads, which are classified as roads with a speed limit under 60 km/hour. In addition, 57% of the pedestrians who had consumed alcohol were killed between Friday and Sunday, and 82% died between the hours of 6pm and 6am. Almost one in 10 of those who were killed were found to have been lying in the road and 8% were killed standing in the road.

“The reality is that alcohol impairs you whether you are a driver or a pedestrian. Alcohol impairs your ability to track moving objects, to judge distance and time and that’s critical for pedestrians”, said Dr Aoife Kervick, the RSA’s policy and research analyst who undertook the research.

Alcohol is a factor in 38% of all road fatalities in Ireland, and as such, road safety experts advocate that nobody planning to drive should consume alcohol.

Dr Kervick said the results showed that it was not just drink drivers who were putting themselves and others at danger, and called for greater awareness of the risks that pedestrians take when they consume alcohol. Pedestrians need to ensure they have a safe way home after consuming alcohol. Just 2% of pedestrians who were killed on Irish roads were wearing a high-vis jacket at the time.

The findings of the study will contribute to the design of an evidence-based pedestrian safety campaign next year.

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