Road safety

Road safety chief ‘amazed’ by large number of drivers caught under the influence of alcohol or drugs over Christmas

THE number of drivers who ignored road safety advice and chose to drive drunk or on drugs over Christmas is “astonishing”, says Ireland’s road safety chief.

Garda road safety figures revealed that 914 motorists were lifted from driving while intoxicated from November 26 to January 4, including 35 on New Year’s Day.

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Garda Siochana carried out 5,681 checkpoints during the Christmas periodCredit: AP Photo/Peter Morrison

Some 19 people also lost their lives during the period – almost double the 10 in 2020. Last year 134 people died on Irish roads compared to 146 in 2020.

Blasting up those who flouted the rules and put lives at risk, Road Safety Authority chief executive Sam Waide said: “It is amazing how many of those who persist in drinking and drugging because this greatly increases the risk of a collision fatality.”

Garda figures also said:

  • 13,950 speeding violations detected
  • 15,759 breath tests performed
  • 5,681 control points implemented
  • 1,269 fined for driving with mobile phone
  • 310 fined for not wearing seat belts
  • 525 learner drivers sentenced for unaccompanied driving

Mr Waide also criticized those who drive at high speeds and highlighted a shocking statistic about the number of people killed who were not wearing seat belts.

He added: “Inappropriate speed is always a problem and even a 5% reduction in average speed can reduce fatal collisions by 30%**.

“It is alarming to think that 28% of all drivers and passengers killed in 2021 in Ireland were not wearing seatbelts.

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“These behaviors lead to deaths and serious injuries on our roads.

“I ask people who continue to break the rules to reconsider your behavior because there is a good chance that you will be caught, risk a fine, receive penalty points or lose your license.”

By releasing figures from Gardai’s Christmas and New Year road safety campaign, which focused on drug and drink driving detections as well as speeding, seat belts and mobile phone use while driving, Deputy Commissioner Paula Hilman said: “As we enter 2022, our hearts go out to the families of the 134 people who lost their lives on our roads in 2021.

“An Garda Síochána is committed to reducing fatalities on our roads in 2022 and asks all road users to make this their priority as well.

“While a large majority of the public listens to and heeds road safety advice, we want all road users to be safe.

“Over the Christmas period, Gardaí arrested 914 drivers for drunk driving, approximately 1 in 5 (21%) drunk driving arrests occurred between 6am and 1pm.

NEW YEAR’S ARRESTS

“Thirty-five drunk and drug driving incidents happened on New Year’s Day, 12 of the incidents happened between 6 a.m. and 1 p.m., it’s a bad start to 2022 for some drivers.

“These ongoing detections demonstrate that some road users continue to ignore road safety advice, putting themselves and other road users at risk.

“I call on all road users to change their behavior, heed road safety advice to reduce collisions, avoid unnecessary deaths and ensure our roads are safer in 2022.

“Gardaí carried out 15,759 breathalyzer tests at 5,681 checkpoints over the Christmas period. We are playing our part and asking all road users to play theirs.”