Belfast Telegraph

Dozens of drunk pedestrians injured on Northern Ireland's roads

By Claire Williamson

More than 60 intoxicated pedestrians were injured on Northern Ireland roads last year, new research has revealed.

Figures from the Department of Transport obtained in a freedom of information request indicated that over 6,000 pedestrians -impaired by alcohol - have been injured on UK roads since 2011, with many of the incidents happening over the Christmas period.

That means across the UK more than one in seven pedestrians injured on UK roads in the last three years were under the influence of alcohol.

The UK-wide research commissioned by Confused.com indicated that London and Kent had the most 'drunk pedestrians' injured on the roads in 2013.

The new data obtained from 21 police services across the UK revealed that there were 158 injuries in London, 126  in Glasgow, 123 in Kent and 64 in Northern Ireland.

The figures provided for Northern Ireland also include those who were under the influence of drugs.

The information is part of a warning over the Christmas period to highlight the dangers of 'drunk walking'.

Further research commission by Confused.com has also revealed that pedestrians who are under the influence are also posing a risk for motorists who often have to swerve as they drunkenly cross roads or stumble on to the road.

Statistics based on Freedom of Information data from the police forces and from the Transport Department revealed that men are the most likely to 'drink walk' and account for 79 percent of all drunk pedestrian road accidents  - with those under the age of 26 in more than any other age group.

The highest risk for drunk pedestrians on UK roads is at night is between 10pm and midnight.

The data obtained from police revealed a peak in the number of injuries during the month of December.

It suggested nearly a third of all drunken pedestrian incidents involved people between the ages of 18 to 24.

Further research commissioned by the price comparison site in to the attitudes around drinking and pedestrian road safety revealed that 83% of people surveyed admitted to walking home under the influence of alcohol.

The research was according to findings from 2,000 people questioned by One Poll Research and found that 83 per cent of people admitted that they walked home while under the influence of alcohol.

Meanwhile just over one in five admitted they consumed eight drinks or more on a night out.

Nearly 62 percent admitted to walking home alone while under the influence of alcohol, while a third admitted to having walked down road which were unlit.

One in seven admitted to crossing roads without looking properly while drunk and a similar proportion said they have sat down on the side of the road while intoxicated.

While one in 10 have admitted they have fallen in to a road when drunk and the same amount indicated they had been hit or nearly hit by a car after drinking too much - with most incidents happening on busy streets, outside pubs, clubs and bars.

Nearly a third of drivers said they had to swerve or break to avoid hitting a pedestrian they suspected of being intoxicated with more than one in 10 admitting they thought they knocked into a pedestrian they believed to be drunk.

However more than a fifth of motorists indicated they would either stop their car or call the police if they saw a drunken person staggering in the road.

In reaction to the research the Environment Minister Mark H Durkhan said he was "concerned" about the figures.

He said: "The Christmas party season is now well under way,  the nights are at their darkest and visibility poorest for drivers, riders and pedestrians, increasing the danger as we use the roads.  Please take steps to increase your visibility for fellow road users.  I want everyone to enjoy Christmas and New Year but I want them to do so safely.

“Pedestrians have a right to use the road just as motorists have a right to drive.  A pedestrian under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs is at a significantly greater risk of being involved in a collision.  If you’ve been out drinking, you’re vulnerable and you could put others at risk.  Plan your way home.  It’s as important as planning your night out.  Pre-book a taxi or designate a driver.

"Already this year, 76 people have lost their lives due to road deaths.  Let us all do our best to make sure there are no more.

He added: "It can be tempting to take an unplanned drink, particularly at Christmas parties, and consider driving home.  However, even small amounts of alcohol impair driving.  Leave the car at home and use a taxi, bus, train or a designated driver who can enjoy complimentary soft drinks under Coca Cola's Christmas road safety campaign.

"You may still be over the limit in the morning, so if you have to get to work, the shops or drop children to school the next morning, do not take a chance – make other arrangements.   

"Drivers the Highway Code says that all drivers should watch out for particularly vulnerable pedestrians    

"One poor decision on the roads can change lives forever."

Northern Ireland drunk pedestrian road injuries from 2010-2013 - including those under the influence of drugs

2010 - 59 injuries

2011 - 99 injuries

2012 - 79 injuries

2013 - 64 injuries

Regional drunk pedestrian road injuries in 2013

Northern Ireland : 64 injuries

Metropolitan Police: 158 injuries

Glasgow City Council: 126 injuries

Kent Country Constabulary: 123 injuries

Public Health Agency Christmas alcohol warning

The Public Health Agency (PHA) is urging people to be mindful of their alcohol intake at this time of year.

It is recommended that men drink no more than 3 to 4 units of alcohol a day and no more than 21 units over a week.

For women, it is recommended that they drink no more than 2 to 3 units of alcohol a day and no more than 14 units over the course of the week.

Remember, for each unit you drink over the daily limit, the risk to your health increases.
Binge drinking can have a major impact on health, such as causing damage to the liver, heart, brain and stomach.

If you are planning on drinking alcohol over Christmas, here are some tips for managing your drinking:

• Eat before or while drinking and avoid salty snacks, which make you thirsty.

• Be assertive – don’t be pressured into drinking more than you want or intend to.

• Know your limits and stick to them.
 
• Stay busy – don't just sit and drink. Dance or have a game of pool if you're at a pub.

• Try not to confuse large measures of alcohol with standard measures, eg a glass of wine served at a party or at home may be much larger than the standard 125ml.

• Keep track of your drinks and don't let people top up your drink until it's finished.

• Try alternating alcoholic drinks with water or other non-alcoholic drinks. Add plenty of mixer to your drinks to make them last longer.

• Avoid rounds, ‘shouts’ and kitties – drink at your own pace, not someone else's.

• Drink slowly – take sips, not gulps.

For more information visit www.knowyourlimits.info

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