DURING the summer holidays there is always the temptation to have a pint or two when you are out and about in the car. Sure, sunshine, lunch with a beer or a wine sounds lovely, but it’s not worth it, either leave the car at home or leave the booze alone.
I’m not being sanctimonious or preaching, far from it, I am simply echoing the results of a drink driving survey recently conducted by the charity IAM RoadSmart. Maybe a few alcohol-free drinks, of which there are many quality variants available, are the answer. The problem with real drink is that thousands of motorists could be unknowingly getting behind the wheel while over the drink-drive limit. That’s according to the survey, which has revealed that up to four in ten drivers of the 1,004 motorists surveyed do not know the legal drink-drive limit. And, alarmingly, only one in five of those surveyed knew the drink-drive limit of 35 micrograms per 100 millilitres of breath in Northern Ireland, Wales, and England and 22 micrograms in 100 milligrams of breath in Scotland and the Republic.
These findings are concerning, but what does all that mean when it comes to how much you can drink and drive safely? We may think we know how many drinks puts us over the limit, but do we really? I don’t. Neil Greig from IAM RoadSmart said: “Our research highlights that there is still a real lack of awareness regarding how much alcohol is too much before it is illegal to drive. We would like to remind drivers that individual characteristics such as body weight, food consumption, gender and metabolism will have an impact on a breathalyser reading. Therefore, the charity will always recommend ‘none for the road’.”
And that’s good advice.
The survey’s findings have also led the charity to reiterate its plea to governments to roll out a smarter package of longer-term measures to help drive down the number of drink-drivers on our roads. This includes a lower drink-drive limit across the four nations in line with Scotland and the Republic’s limit to reinforce good behaviour, a fast track of evidential roadside testing machines to release police resources and compulsory drink-drive rehabilitation courses for all drivers caught over the limit.
Please remember, a prosecution for drink-driving will impact upon the rest of the life of anyone caught. How? Through a combination of public humiliation, loss of earnings through loss of licence, future insurance costs, potential family break-up, a criminal record, as well as adding real danger to our roads.
IAM RoadSmart estimate that the last drink that takes you over the limit could cost you up to £70,000! If that isn’t a sobering thought, then nothing is. Let’s keep drink off the road. Say no to that drink, it’s none for the road. You know it makes sense.
• LET’S TREAD CAREFULLY
SUMMER is well and truly here and many of us are getting out and about on the road during the holiday break, but this is the time when most tyre-related incidents occur on our roads: June, July, and August.
Longer journeys with extra passengers and boots full of luggage put additional strain on tyres, and if they have any defects, they are more likely to suffer a failure. To minimise that risk takes just a few simple checks.
Have a good look at each tyre and see if there are any signs of cracking in the sidewall or tread. Cracking is a sign the tyres are hardening, reducing grip, and allowing moisture to seep into the structure to cause the structural wires to rust and weaken. A bulge in a tyre indicates the inner structure of the tyre has been compromised and without that essential structural support, that bulged tyre is extremely dangerous.
The most common fault with road tyres, though, is incorrect pressure. Research shows 57 per cent of the tyres on our roads are underinflated and with extra weight and longer distances there is an increased risk of failure. The correct tyre pressure for your vehicle can be found inside the driver’s door shut, filler cap or handbook. For family holiday travel, it’s typically a higher pressure that is needed but refer to the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendation.
Another crucial check before heading off is to see whether you have a spare wheel and if it’s inflated correctly before you start packing the car boot. Many cars today come with a ‘space saver tyre’ or an emergency puncture repair kit, these are designed only for short term and low speed usage, maximum 50mph, maximum 50 miles, designed to just get you to a tyre depot to get it fixed properly.
And finally, check to ensure all tyres have more than 1.6mm of tread. If they are below 2mm, it really is time to start thinking about replacing them, especially if you are planning a long journey. Our roads are never busier than during the summer months, which leads to congestion, hold-ups, and traffic jams, which we can’t do anything about. But we can minimise the chances of having an unwanted breakdown due to tyre defects by carrying out these simple checks before we set off. They only take a few minutes.
Remember to ACT… Air Pressure, Condition, Tread. Don’t let your tyres ruin your summer holiday.