Fans gearing up for this weekend’s opening Rugby World Cup matches are being urged not to put their licences and safety at risk by drinking and driving.
Due to the nine-hour time difference, Scotland’s match against Ireland and England’s encounter with Tonga are both being played on Sunday morning, with the England game concluding just after lunchtime.
Road safety experts have warned that anyone planning to enjoy the games with a drink or two should steer clear of driving as data shows the period between 1pm and 4pm is the worst time for drink-drive accidents.
Sunday afternoons are also a peak time for police carrying out breath tests, according to Department for Transport data, meaning anyone irresponsible enough to try it faces a greater chance of being caught.
Simon Rewell, road safety manager at telematics firm insurethebox, commented: “It’s all too easy when you’re caught up in a great sporting moment to have another drink. But that could be a tactical error for rugby fans, young and old. Indeed, the latest Department for Transport data shows the highest proportion of accidents on a Sunday involving drink driving occur between 1pm and 4pm.
“When people take to the roads after even just one drink they are putting themselves, their friends and other road users in potentially grave danger. We don’t want to put a dampener on this great international sporting event, but if rugby fans need to be elsewhere after watching Sunday’s matches, they should find alternative transport or simply not drink alcohol.”
GEM road safety officer Neil Worth warned: “Anyone convicted of drink-driving faces a mandatory ban of at least 12 months, with a fine of up to £5,000 and a possible prison sentence of up to six months.
“So we’re urging fans to plan how they get home if they’re going out to watch a match. Pre-book a taxi, or share lifts and agree a designated driver who will stay on soft drinks.
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“Be careful when walking home. Pedestrians who have had a few drinks are at greater risk; alcohol impairs judgement and reduces the ability to judge speed and distance. It can also increase willingness to take risks, often resulting in pedestrians stumbling into the road and being hit by drivers who have no chance of avoiding them.
“We’ll be cheering for all the home nations in Japan, and we certainly don’t want to spoil anyone’s enjoyment of the match. However, we are committed to helping reduce the risks of injury faced by pedestrians who may have had one drink too many, so we encourage fans to look out for each other and get home safely.”