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'There's no county without drink drivers' - April was the worst month in five years for alcohol offences

Road fatalities on Irish roads, at 63 for 2017 to date, are however down 13 on the same time last year.

90435446_90435446 Source: Leah Farrell

APRIL 2017 WAS the worst year for alcohol-related offences on Irish roads in five years, new figures show.

The statistics, revealed at today’s RSA International Road Safety Conference, suggest that Garda arrests for alcohol-related driving incidents are on the march ever upwards.

Speaking to the conference this afternoon, Superintendent Con O’Donohoe said that “clearly, this is something that hasn’t gone away”.

“There is no county without drink drivers, there is no day without drink drivers,” he said.

905 such incidents were registered in April, an 18% increase year-on-year since 2016. 2,915 DUI (Driving Under the Influence) incidents have been registered in 2017 to date.

2017-06-01 15.15.56

It was also revealed that, in 2013 and 2014:

  • 33% of all fatalities where alcohol was a factor took place in Galway (10%), Cork (11%) and Dublin (12%)
  • In 44% of crashes resulting in fatalities involving alcohol at least one further drug was present in the culpable driver’s bloodstream

Meanwhile, a separate Garda study of fatal collisions involving alcohol between 2008 and 2012 found that a staggering 87% of drivers in such situations were male, with almost three quarters (74%) of the drivers or motorcyclists involved aged between 16 and 34 years.

O’Donohoe professed himself satisfied with the increased level of arrests in 2017.

“The trend for arrests had dropped,” he said. “Some of it was down to the the introduce of MAT (Mandatory Alcohol Testing) in 2006, some of it was down to the previous drop in Garda numbers”.

But the situation is far worse than we thought it was. However at the same time we have gotten much smarter than we were, on the back of RSA research. Now we can see where it’s happening and map our activity against it.

63 people have died on Irish roads so far this year, an improvement of 13 on the same period in 2016. However,  alcohol is currently a factor in 38% of fatal crashes on Irish roads.

2017-06-01 15.12.31 Superintendent Con O'Donohoe addressing today's RSA conference Source: TheJournal.ie

Minister for Transport Shane Ross used the conference, which was also addressed in emotive fashion by Gillian Treacy, a Laois woman whose four-year-old son Ciaran died after their car was struck by a drunk driver in 2014, as a springboard for his ongoing attempts to introduce automatic disqualification for motorists convicted of drink driving.

“This is simply about ensuring proper consequences when people drive while over the existing limits,” the Minister said.

To change behaviours, we need stricter consequences.
Currently those caught can just pay a fine, take three penalty points and get back into their cars. It’s a clear signal that we’re not really that serious about drink driving

Treacy, meanwhile said that lobbying efforts on behalf of groups such as the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI) to slow the amended Road Traffic bill’s progress “are an insult to those of us who have lost loved ones because of drink drivers”.

“I don’t want to be here addressing this conference,” she said. “I want to be dropping three children to school, not two.”

Chair of the RSA Liz O’Donnell meanwhile said that “there are many drink driving deniers, as I call them, in Ireland, and unfortunately many of them are in the Oireachtas”.

Read: Murder investigation launched after body found at Waterford apartment

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