TAKING to the wheel after eating a meal is as dangerous as drink driving, an Irish politican has said.
Independent TD Danny Healy-Rae was speaking at an Oireachtas committee where new drink driving legislation was being discussed.
The Kerry native hit out at Ireland’s Road Safety Authority, saying it is on a “crusade to isolate people further in rural Ireland.”
He took issue with a current proposal to automatically ban first-time drink drivers for three months when caught with a blood alcohol level of 51-80mg of alcohol per 100ml.
Currently such an offence is punished with a fine and penalty points.
Speaking at the Oireachtas, Mr Healy Rae said: “Can I say to you, and many people will agree with me – if you eat too much and get in behind the wheel of a car, then you’re a danger on the road because you are likely to fall asleep after eating a big meal.
"I for one when anyway, when I'm going home out of here this evening, when I know that I won't eat going in behind the wheel because I know what it will do.
“There could have been many other overriding reasons and causes of the accident, as well as the consumption of a small amount of alcohol.”
Velma Burns, research manager with the Road Safety Authority (RSA), hit back at Mr Healy-Ray, accusing him of being “disingenuous.”
She said: "I disagree that there are other overriding factors, because the research shows that when alcohol is consumed and driving, that leads to other risky behaviours. The alcohol consumption comes first.
"I don't think it's a fair comparison to talk about the impact of a big meal on driving compared to the impact of alcohol."
Mr Healy-Rae had previously insisted during the meeting that people having three glasses of Guinness and getting behind the wheel are not causing road deaths or accidents.
He has been outspoken in his defence of drink driving in the past, having said that "if a person goes out and has a little drink, they’re hurting no one, they’re not causing accidents, they’re not killing people.”
The 63-year-old has also been criticised for using the story of Noah’s Ark as proof that climate change does not exist.