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Dublin: 5 °C Thursday 12 December, 2019
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Free coffee and drug warnings as motorists advised to take care this May bank holiday

There were no deaths on the roads during the Easter weekend, and authorities are calling for the same this time around.

MOTORISTS ARE BEING urged to take care on the roads this May bank holiday weekend, and to bear in mind the new mechanisms at the disposal of the gardaí to test for illegal drugs.

An initiative from the Road Safety Authority will also see motorists able to avail of a free coffee at participating Applegreen service stations on Monday afternoon, in a bid to help drivers stay alert behind the wheel.

No one died on the roads during the Easter bank holiday weekend, and Minister for Transport Shane Ross said that it would be “a remarkable but not an impossible achievement” if the May bank holiday also stayed free of road deaths.

Drug testing

This will be the third weekend where gardaí will test drivers for drugs, in a manner similar to breath testing for alcohol.

As detailed here, these new tests allow the gardaí to test for the presence of cannabis, cocaine, opiates (like heroin and morphine) and benzodiazepines (like valium).

Assistant Commissioner Michael Finn said that the gardaí will be out in force over the weekend to keep the roads safe from “careless and dangerous drivers”.

He also warned those taking medicines must take them exactly as prescribed, to ensure they are not committing an offence.

“Drivers on prescription or over the counter drugs are only committing an offence, if their driving is impaired.

An Garda Síochana urges everyone to always take prescribed or over the counter medication in accordance with the instructions given, particularly in relation to dosage.

Free coffee

The RSA is aiming to increase awareness around the role that driver fatigue can play in road traffic accidents this weekend, by offering free coffee to motorists at participating Applegreen locations.

RSA chief executive Moyagh Murdock said: “Drivers suffering from a sleep debt are at risk of nodding off whilst driving and substantially increasing their risk of being involved in a crash.

If drivers do feel the effects of fatigue whilst driving they should remember to stop, sip and sleep – stop the car in a safe place, sip a caffeine drink, and sleep for 15-20 minutes.

To avail of the free coffee, customers have to say “RSA” or “driver reviver” to the till operator at participating garages between 2pm and 8pm on Monday 1 May.

The RSA added that driver fatigue is estimated to contribute to as many as one in five driver deaths in Ireland every year.

Alcohol

A common theme across the different agencies was the importance of refraining from driving after drinking alcohol.

In light of his recent calls to adopt a zero tolerance policy on drivers found to be above the limit, Minister Shane Ross made an appeal for drivers not to drink and drive this weekend.

He said: “I would urge drivers to be aware of the effects of alcohol on their driving, as any amount of it can impair driving and increase the risk of a collision.

This is not an opinion – it’s a scientific fact.

Ross’ plan would ban those found with blood alcohol contents of between 50mg and 80mg per 100ml. Currently those people receive a fine and three penalty points.

Not everyone is in support however, with Kerry TD Danny Healy-Rae recently telling an Oireachtas committee that “nobody caused a fatality by having three glasses of Guinness drank”.

Read: The State spends millions on road safety campaigns each year – but are they effective?

Read: Most people want drink drivers to be publicly named and shamed

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Sean Murray

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