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Gardaí and the RSA launched their bank holiday campaign this morning. Sasko Lazarov

Number of drug-driving arrests in first half of 2020 was more than double the same period in 2019

There was a total of 1,216 drug-driving arrests made in the first six months.

THE NUMBER OF people arrested for drug-driving in the first six months of 2020 is more than double the same period in 2019, according to figures released by the Road Safety Authority (RSA) today. 

The RSA and gardaí are warning against drink-driving and drug-driving ahead of the August bank holiday weekend and are concerned about the “noticeable increase” in the number of people arrested for driving under the influence between January and June. 

There was a total of 1,216 drug-driving arrests made in the first six months – an increase of 106% on the 591 arrests made during the same period in 2019. 

The Medical Bureau of Road Safety also recorded a 17% increase in the number of blood and urine specimens analysed in the first six months of 2020 compared with the first six months of 2019 – 2,787 compared to 2,375.

Meanwhile, a review of road fatalities between 2013 and 2017 showed that, where toxicology results were available, a third (35.6%) of drivers killed tested positive for alcohol.

Some 9.8% of drivers killed had a positive toxicology for cocaine and 7.4% had a positive toxicology for cannabis.

This weekend will see an additional 41 drug testing devices used at checkpoints. 

“The number of detections being made, and the number of specimens being analysed is [...] revealing the true extent of the problem,” Liz O’Donnell, chair of the Road safety Authority said.

“We have a big problem with drug driving in this country. My message for drivers is to understand that there is no hiding from drug driving any more. The gardaí can and are detecting drug drivers in increasing numbers on our public roads.”

Assistant garda commissionner, Paula Hillman wanted that garda patrols will be taking a targeted approach to catch drink and drug-drivers this weekend. 

“It is totally unacceptable to drive if you have been drinking or taking drugs. This selfish action endangers the lives of all road users, so we are very concerned by the significant increase in the number of drug-driving arrests so far this year,” she said. 

“Our Roads Policing and operational units will be conducting checkpoints nationwide with a targeted focus on driving under the influence of an intoxicant, whether that is alcohol or drugs, or a combination of both.”

The AA Roadwatch has today also released stats on the number of road traffic incidents it has recorded over the past two months as the country emerged from lockdown.

The number of traffic incidents reported by AA Roadwatch has increased by 341% compared to the lockdown period.

Since Phase 3, the AA Roadwatch team have reported an average of 53 traffic incidents per week compared to a weekly average of 12 incidents during the lockdown. Since entering Phase 3, the AA has also seen a 20% increase in traffic incidents compared to Phase 2. 

“While traffic patterns have looked quite different so far this year, we still expect that many people will be using the long-weekend and the first few weeks of August to visit family or squeeze in a holiday somewhere in Ireland before the start of the next school year,” Conor Faughnan, AA Director of Consumer Affairs stated. 

“We do not want to see the number of crashes and collisions on our roads continue to increase, so we would encourage motorists to exercise additional caution in the days and weeks ahead.” 

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