Thursday, 23 November 1972
Dáil Eireann Debate
Dr. O'Connell: asked the Minister for Local Government if he will state the number of deaths, serious injuries and slight injuries which occurred on Irish roads during the year 1971; how many of these occurred at night time; the approximate percentage which could be attributed to excessive intake of alcohol; and how these figures compare with those of 1970.
Mr. Molloy: Road Accident Facts, published annually by An Foras Forbartha, shows that during 1971 the number of persons killed in road accidents on our roads was 576 and the number injured 9,629. The corresponding figures for 1970 were 540 and 9,269 respectively. The statistics compiled by An Foras Forbartha do not distinguish between serious and slight injuries. During 1971, 299 persons were killed and 4,073 injured during the hours of darkness. The corresponding figures for 1970 were 259 and 3,910 respectively.
Extensive research has been carried out abroad into the relationship between alochol and road accidents. The results of this research pinpoint alcohol as a major contributory factor in road accidents. There is little reason to believe that the picture is anything different in this country.
An Foras Forbartha recently published a report entitled The Distribution of Accidents by Hour of Day covering the three years 1968, 1969 and 1970. The report shows, inter alia, that the risk of an accident involving injury on the average day is much greater during the hour ending at midnight than at any other period in the 24 hours—in fact over seven times as great as that during daytime hours. The report suggests that the most likely reasons why the risk of accident should be greater at night than during the day are fatigue, darkness and consumption of alcohol. Alochol would however seem to be the overriding factor because (a) the hour of greatest risk in each case coincides with  the closing of public houses, (b) the highest relative risks are recorded on Saturday and Sunday nights, traditional drinking nights.
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