Drink played a part in almost 40% all fatal road accidents in a five-year period, research has revealed.
Analysis of forensic reports from crashes between 2008 and 2012 found alcohol was a factor in collisions in which 366 motorists, their passengers, motorbike users, pedestrians and cyclists were killed.
And the study showed men are far more likely to get behind the wheel after drinking and were involved in nine out of 10 alcohol-fuelled accidents.
The Road Safety Authority (RSA) said that only five of the 222 drink-driving motorists had not caused the accident they were caught up in.
The research also showed that alcohol was most frequently a factor in fatal crashes in Cork (10.6% of accidents), Galway, (9.7%), Dublin (7.9%) and Donegal (7.6%).
Transport Minister Shane Ross said the study shows Ireland still has a problem with alcohol on the roads.
“The consequences are having a devastating effect in our communities,” he said.
“We must continue educating drivers, pedestrians, cyclists and passengers about the very real dangers and consequences of making the bad decision to use the road after consuming alcohol.”
The alarming research was released to coincide with next week’s June Bank holiday – a mid-summer weekend which has seen 35 people killed and 85 seriously injured between 2007 and 2015.
Mr Ross added: “For some the temptation may be there but I would urge these people to think carefully about the choices they make. We know alcohol promotes risky and potentially life-threatening behaviour – not just among drivers, but among all road users.”
The RSA research is the latest study into crash statistics and follows warnings that bald and defective tyres were partly to blame for 71 deaths over the same five-year period.
Moyagh Murdock, the agency’s chief executive, said the figures show the rate of alcohol-related road deaths is increasing.
“This is deeply worrying,” she said.
“While the majority of people in this country do the right thing, it is shocking to see that alcohol is still a significant factor.
“It shows that while we all understand in theory that we shouldn’t drink and drive or walk home drunk, we still have not fully eradicated the practice in Ireland, and even more harrowing was the sheer number of young people – young men in particular – who lost their lives on our roads as a result of alcohol.”
Garda figures show more than 3,000 people arrested on suspicion of drink or drug driving since the start of the year.
Chief Superintendent Aidan Reid said: “Drink driving is one of the most selfish and dangerous things you can do – not only are you putting your own life at risk, you’re putting other people’s lives at risk.”
The RSA research, which examined Garda’s forensic collision investigation files from 867 fatal accidents, showed:
:: Of the 286 people killed in crashes involving drink-drivers, 169 were driving, 25 were riding a motorcycle, 83 were passengers, eight were walking and one person was cycling.
:: Another four cyclists and 76 pedestrians were killed and their own drinking was a factor.
:: One in 10 of all drink-driving related crashes occurred between 7am and 11am.
:: 89% of drivers were men and almost half (43%) of the drivers who had been drinking were aged 16-24.
:: A motorcyclist is more likely to be involved in an drink-related fatal crash on a Sunday evening between 5pm and 6pm.
:: Of 222 motorists who had consumed alcohol and were involved in fatal accidents, 217 were found to have caused the collision.
:: Half of the drivers found to have been drinking were more than four times over the limit.