Garda: 'one third of drivers killed tested positive for alcohol'

An Garda Síochána, The Road Safety Authority (RSA) and the Medical Bureau of Road Safety (MBRS) are highlighting the dangers of drink and drug driving ahead of the August bank holiday weekend.

The MBRS 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 vs 2,375).

It recorded a 6.5% increase in blood and urine specimens taken from drivers arrested from March 27 to June 29, compared to the same period in 2019, despite a 70% reduction in traffic during that period due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Drug testing of specimens shows that cannabis is the most prevalent drug detected, followed by cocaine.

Garda enforcement figures show that 1,216 drug driving arrests were made in the first six months of 2020 compared to 591 in the first half of 2019.

Separately, an analysis by the RSA of coronial data from road user fatalities in 2013-2017, found that, where a toxicology result was available, a third (35.6%) of drivers killed tested positive for alcohol. 9.8% of drivers killed had a positive toxicology for cocaine and 7.4% had a positive toxicology for cannabis*.

Assistant Commissioner Paula Hilman, Roads Policing and Community Engagement, An Garda Síochána, said: “Our job is to protect communities from drink and drug drivers. 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 concerned by the significant increase in the number of drug-driving arrests so far this year.

“In the first six months of 2020, a total of 1,216 people were arrested for drug-driving. This is a 106% increase in arrests compared to last year.

“We will have a visible enforcement presence across the country over the August bank holiday weekend. 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.

“In consultation with the MBRS, an additional 41 preliminary drug testing devices have been made available to support this campaign.

“Our message to drivers is: if you drink or take drugs, don’t drive.”

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