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Dublin: 7 °C Tuesday 19 November, 2019
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Two-thirds of drug drivers test positive for cannabis at roadside tests

Cocaine was the second main illicit drug detected in tests.

Breath and drug roadside test.
Breath and drug roadside test.
Image: Sam Boal

MORE THAN TWO-thirds of drivers who tested positive at a roadside drug test in the past two years showed a positive test for cannabis. 

According to figures released today by the Road Safety Authority (RSA), 68% of drivers who tested for drugs at a roadside drug test between April 2017 and July 2019 tested positive for cannabis.

Cocaine closely followed as the main illicit drug detected, with 37% of samples testing positive for the drug. 

Chief Executive of the RSA Moyagh Murdock said the analyses released today were concerning and showed a “clearer understanding” of the prevalence of drug driving in Ireland.

“We will continue to educate drivers on the dangers of driving under the influence of drugs and work closely with the gardaí to support their enforcement activity,” Murdock said. 

“But we will do more to examine the factors around drug driving and examine international best practice to find interventions that can be applied here to tackle drug driving.”

An analysis of the toxicology results of 310 drivers and motorcyclists killed between 2013 and 2016 showed that 11% had a positive result for at least one benzodiazepine, 8% showed positive for cocaine and 7% showed positive results for cannabis, according to preliminary results from the RSA, Health Research Board (HRB) and Medical Bureau of Road Safety (MBRS).

86% of driver fatalities who tested positive for at least one drug category were male and just over half were aged 25-44.

Alcohol remains the most frequently detected drug in blood and urine samples. 

Director of the MBRS Denis A Cusack said that there should be an increase in the drug testing of drivers at garda stations.

He added that the presence of prescription and over-the-counter drugs in a person’s system is not necessarily a problem, only when it causes impairment. 

“Drivers with medical conditions should continue to take their prescribed medications in accordance with healthcare advice and medical fitness-to-drive guidelines. If you experience impairment speak to your GP or pharmacist,” said Cusack.  

These figures were released today at the RSA’s annual academic lecture as the organisation starts its Irish Road Safety Week which will be focused on drug driving. 

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