Letter to Irish Times, Friday 23rd October
Rural backbenchers under pressure- Legislation shouldnt have to be a popularity contest!
In fact, The Nationalist of Oct 28th printed this- thank you to the editor, Barbara.
As opponents of Minister Dempsey's proposed new drink driving legislation once again pressurise their elected representatives there is a need to examine this emotive issue with new thinking. Prime Time's feature of Thursday 22nd October presented incontrovertible evidence that reduction of the drink driving limit to 50 mg from 80mg will reduce annual national road deaths by 10%. Indeed experts cited 18 road accident victims in 2008 in Ireland where the dead were found to have blood alcohol levels between 50 and 80mg. This refutes the argument that in many cases a couple of drinks will not impair driving.
Vested interest groups can not see beyond the defence of their right to allow drinkers to drive quietly home, to acknowledge the need to legislate for the common good. I recommend pinning responsibility for solving this issue squarely back onto those with the largest vested interest- the publicans and drinks industry. A simple solution of providing transport as part of the bar trade's basic customer service could be cheaply introduced and could quickly become the norm.
A publican could absorb a small minibus or people carrier into the business' cost base for less than 500 euro per month assuming a 24,000 euro lease over 5 years. This becomes a business asset both for its mobile branded advertising and for it's vital function of ferrying customers to the pub. A publican would then devise collection and drop-off routes and routines.
An 8pm to 9pm collection loop for OAPs on a wednesday with a homeward loop from 12 to 1, perhaps. Fridays and Saturdays would, it is hoped, become busy enough to require the enterprising publican to send the van out on several pick-up and drop-off runs.
The increase in visiting drinkers would more than compensate for the cost of this drinkers' shuttle service and driver's salary from the publican's viewpoint. The vital social benefits of publican provided drinkers' transport would be safer roads and the re-establishment of social contacts in both rural communities and among the less well off who currently deterred by taxi costs are drinking , perhaps to excess, at home.
Chairman , Kildare Chamber of Commerce,