"ONE-in-five drivers killed driving to work in the morning is over the drink-drive limit.
These findings are revealed in an unpublished Health and Safety Executive (HSE) report. They completely undermine claims that gardai are annoying drivers going to work by giving breath tests.
The new research was commissioned by the Road Safety Authority (RSA) in a bid to establish the truth about claims that no one is dying on our roads during the morning because of drink driving.
These claims are being aired almost daily in the media as the debate rages about whether drivers should be forced to take random breath tests on their way to work.
The latest research, due to be published later this week, is based on the blood alcohol levels of every driver killed last year. It found that 21pc of fatal road crashes between 6am and noon were alcohol related.
The report concludes that "the 'morning after' is a danger zone for drink-driving related death and injury on Irish roads".
It identifies Monday morning as a particularly high-risk period for "morning after" crashes. It also reveals that drivers who drank alcohol the night before and do not have a good night's sleep are twice as likely as others to be involved in a crash.
Risks are high in the morning because there are large numbers of schoolchildren, other pedestrians and vehicles on the roads.
Dr Declan Bedford, an HSE specialist in public health medicine, said yesterday that the high number of alcohol-related crashes in the morning proved that compulsory breath tests were justified.
"Mandatory alcohol testing in the morning time is saving and will continue to save lives," he said.
Transport Minister Martin Cullen said: "This research should end the debate that it is okay to have alcohol in your system and drive. This is a nonsense."
Mr Cullen said the random breath-test campaign, credited with reducing road deaths by 30pc since it was introduced just five months ago, was a 24-hour enforcement issue, "not just for a few hours"."
It should come as absolutely no shock to anyone that an increasing number of road deaths are caused by drivers the morning after a night's drinking. If you're out until four in the morning knocking back the booze, chances are when you get up at eight or nine you're still drunk.
And even if you are not, you could still be a danger. If you have ever been hungover -and I'm sure most of us have- you can probably attest to the fact that you are more clumsy, slower to react to things and prone to groaning and keeping your eyes closed.
Hardly the best condition to be in charge of something as powerful as a car.
It is not really rocket science, if you want to drink, don't drive, have a designated driver, take turns in your social group. Do like a few of my friends do down the country, they organise a minibus taxi for Saturday night, (driven by a madman, but a sober one).
If you are a bit of a sot- like me- and must get sozzled, then drink plenty of water before you go to sleep and eat breakfast the next morning, even if the thought of food makes you sick. Try to give yourself a few hours to clear the alcohol out of your system before you head off. One unit of alcohol takes about an hour to break down, so every hour you add not drinking helps. Not always easy I know, but if it keeps you safe it's worth doing.
Oh and Martin Cullen should be slapped up side the head for using 'a nonsense.' Nonsense is a perfectly good noun, no need to fucking with it by adding 'a'.
That is all.