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WITH Christmas with us once again it's time to kick back, relax and digest some turkey.

Despite the overheating credit card, expanding waistline and the constant visits to relatives you normally wouldn't acknowledge the existence of, Christmas is a wonderful time of year.

But celebrating the birth of Jesus takes on an altogether more sinister tone when you bear in mind that the Gardai are arresting more people for drink driving this year than they did last Christmas. Studies conducted in the northeast of the country in 2001 and 2002 show that 40 per cent of people killed in road accidents had been drinking.

This Christmas the National Safety Council has reiterated its plea with the country's motorists to never drink and drive. Gardai arrested 249 people for drink driving during their first week of the annual drink driving campaign, up from 249 last year.

Men are the worst offenders, 90 per cent of those arrested while a third of those were between 20 and 29 years of age.

Gardai also revealed more than 60 per cent of those arrested for drink driving are over twice the legal limit.

Last weekend's accident in Limerick in which a man was killed brought the death toll on Irish roads to 370 people, up from 336 in all of 2003.

Winter is a difficult enough time to drive when stone cold sober but the Gardai recommend to drive with dipped headlights on during dark days, obeying the speed limit and always wear your seatbelt.

Cyclists and pedestrians should wear protective clothing and anybody cycling by night needs front and rear lights on their bicycle by law. So remember, if you're going to the pub leave the car at home, watch for ice and have a very happy Christmas.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:Dec 26, 2004
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