RSA criticised for fake statistics in pedestrians and alcohol ad

IMAGE: A still from the RSA advert with the fake claim.

— Adverting campaign is “victim-blaming” says Irish Road Victims Association.

A claim that 66% or two thirds of pedestrians killed on Irish roads had alcohol in their systems was concocted by the Road Safety Authority (RSA) by excluding a large number of deaths where the death person’s alcohol levels were not recorded.

The RSA’s raw data shows alcohol levels were recorded in just 21% of the 228 deaths in the sample time frame use, between 2005 and 2007. 

Last week the Irish Road Victims Association told the Oireachtas committee on transport that in the sample period in question over 200 pedestrians were killed but the RSA build a PR and advertisement campaign around this when blood alcohol levels data was only available a limited number of those deaths.

It’s not the first time the RSA were accused of misleading advertisements — in 2015 the RSA were accused of faking an advertisement aimed at highlighting how large the bindspots in trucks are.

According to KildareStreet.com, the latest claim of the RSA faking it was made at the Oireachtas transport committee meeting last Wednesday, March 1.

“I have an issue with the question of drunk pedestrians. The Road Safety Authority broadcasted an advertisement that we have all seen. I have raised this with the Road Safety Authority. The claim was that 66%, two thirds, of pedestrians killed had alcohol in their systems. That is victim-blaming, said Ms Donna Price, chairwoman and founder of the Irish Road Victims Association.

She continued: “Let us consider the figures. Over 200 were killed during the period in question, but there was only blood alcohol levels data for 40 of those. Of those 40 odd, two thirds had alcohol in their systems. We cannot continue to perpetuate that notion. It is so hurtful to our families, who have suffered an injustice.”

Irish Road Victims Association has previously communited the issues with the advert to the RSA, including on Twitter:

The reference to children is because the RSA statistic of 66% is likely to include children and other who are unlikely to have taken a drink before they were killed.

After campaigning by the Irish Road Victims Association and others, the the RSA published the data relating to the advertisement on its website — it shows that the blood alcohol concentration data was missing in almost 70% of deaths:

The advert was re-run recently on broadcast television and it remains on the RSA website and YouTube channel.

The RSA’s website states: “Our latest Road Safety campaign focuses on the danger of pedestrians who have consumed alcohol. This is not a new problem. Because the debate over the past decades has focused on drink driving, this has been a largely overlooked area of road safety. But the facts speak for themselves: two thirds of pedestrians killed on our roads have consumed alcohol.”

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