The An Garda Síochána and the Road Safety Authority (RSA) are implementing a major enforcement and education offensive during July and August that will target drink driving behaviour on Ireland’s roads.
The road safety push is being mounted as casualty figures show that road deaths have risen by 15 per cent in 2016. Of concern too is the fact that July and August (19 and 14 deaths respectively in 2015) are among the most dangerous months of the year and is a high risk period for drink driving.
A total of 87 people have died on the roads since the beginning of the year, 10 more deaths compared to the same date last year. There has also been a 50 per cent rise in deaths at weekends, again a time traditionally associated with drink driving.
The planned campaign comes as preliminary findings from a new report from the National Drug Related Death Index (NDRDI), part of the Health Research Board revealed that 32 per cent of drivers who died in 2013 were drink driving. The NDRDI report confirmed the findings of the RSA’s recent Pre-Crash Report on Alcohol, which was published in early June and found that alcohol was a factor in 38 per cent of all fatal crashes. Of this 38 per cent, a drink driver accounted for 29 per cent of these crashes between 2008 and 2012.
Speaking about the rise in deaths and their planned enforcement campaign for July and August, Superintendent Con O’Donohue, Garda National Traffic Bureau said: “Everyone, including the authorities must take all necessary and urgent steps to reverse the upward trend in road deaths. For our part An Garda Síochána is increasing its day to day enforcement activity in July and August. Specifically we have added seven national 24 hour drink driving operations to our operations plan for these months. We are placing a particular emphasis on targeting drink driving late at night over weekends. My colleagues around the country will put additional effort into targeting those counties that have a track record of drink driving related fatalities.”
The top counties in the country for drink driving related fatalities include Cork (10.6 per cent), Galway (9.7 per cent), Dublin (7.9 per cent), Donegal (7.6 per cent) and Cavan (5.5 per cent). County Cork also accounts for nearly a fifth all road deaths in the country this year (16 deaths).
Superintendent O’Donohue added: “We are asking everyone to think ahead and, if intending to have a drink when they go out, plan how to get home. If you’re going to drink when you go out then the only safe option is to leave the car at home so that you won’t be tempted to get behind the wheel with alcohol on board. I also appeal to people who see someone who has been drinking getting behind the wheel to drive a vehicle, to report it immediately to the Gardaí. The Gardaí cannot be on every street corner that’s why we need the support of the community to help tackle this killer behaviour. Your positive actions could save a life.”
Moyagh Murdock, chief executive, Road Safety Authority, said: “The RSA will be supporting An Garda Síochána’s drink driving enforcement blitz with an awareness effort that includes a radio, online and poster campaign targeting pubs and clubs nationwide. Our message, which is particularly aimed at young people, is not to let your summertime turn to tragedy, not to let the local roads you drive become lethal because of stupid, reckless choices you made. Choices that could affect you for the rest of your life if you are involved in a drink driving incident. We want people to think of the possible consequences. A drink driving disqualification could affect your employment prospects, you may never be able to travel to the U.S. or face a lifetime of shame from having someone’s serious injury or death on your conscience.”