Gardai yesterday launched their nationwide annual Christmas and New Year Road Safety Campaign and announced they will be increasing mandatory alcohol testing checkpoints around the country for the next six weeks.
The increase comes after the Road Safety Authority (RSA) revealed the results of survey of driver attitudes,in which 284,000 drivers, or one in 10, admitted consuming alcohol before driving in the past 12 months.
Of those who admitted to drink driving, almost two out of five said they had consumed two or more drinks. The research shows that the incidence of alcohol consumption is much higher among males, those who drive for work and those who have had a collision/near miss in recent years. They are also likely to be high speeding and rule violators.
Almost 6,000 people have been arrested on suspicion of driving whilst intoxicated for the period January –October 2015. The vast majority of the arrests were male and nearly half of those arrests occurred on a Saturday or Sunday. Of those over the limit, more than half were between 20-39 years of age.
Chief Superintendent Mark Curran, Garda National Traffic Bureau, said: “An Garda Síochána will be increasing the number of Mandatory Alcohol Testing checkpoints around the country over the next six weeks because the temptation for people to get into the car is increased after consuming alcohol. My message to those drivers is ‘don’t do it - never, ever drink and drive’, because the consequences for you and others could be very serious. At best you risk losing your licence – at worst you could have to live with the guilt of being responsible for someone’s death or serious injury”
He also reminded drivers that the powers of An Garda Siochana “enable us to breath test any driver who has committed a road traffic offence.
He also added that “the Gardaí will be targeting drink driving the morning after. This still remains a danger time zone as 12% of all drink driving arrests occur between 8am and 2pm. Of those, almost a third happen on a Sunday, peaking between 11am and 2pm.
To raise awareness of the Christmas and New Year Anti-Drink Driving Campaign, the RSA and An Garda Síochána have produced a short information video which clearly shows what a driver can expect if caught drink driving. In the scenario shown, a driver who is detected driving illegally in a bus lane in the morning rush hour is breath tested, fails, is arrested and taken to Store Street Garda Station. The video will be promoted online and though social media.
Drink Aware and the Road Safety Authority will also run a refreshed version of its ‘Morning After’ campaign. It reminds anyone who has been out celebrating that they may be unfit to drive the following morning. The campaign includes a 30 second online video, radio ad and washroom poster.
Ms. Moyagh Murdock, Chief Executive, RSA said: “Any amount of alcohol impairs driving. This is not an opinion, it’s scientific fact. So if you are heading to an office party or socialising over the Christmas and New Year period, make sure you plan ahead. Leave the keys at home and book a taxi, hackney, use public transport or designate a driver.” She added this applies if you are intending to walk home after socialising.