Budget cuts won't affect drink-drive crackdown, warn gardai
GARDAI have promised a major crackdown on drink driving over Christmas despite having budgets slashed and numbers cut.
Intelligence-led policing, including a focus on checkpoints on dangerous roads and at pub closing times, will be used instead of a 'blanket' enforcement approach.
And assistant commissioner John Twomey said yesterday that enforcement would be directed at driving under the influence of drink and drugs, speeding and the non-wearing of seat belts.
He said despite 30 fewer fatalities so far this year compared with the same period in 2010, many families would be eating Christmas dinner without a loved one next week.
"Every single death has a devastating impact on family, friends and the local community and we all have a continuing role to play in further reducing road deaths.
"Our focus remains on changing behaviour. An Garda Siochana is not out there trying to catch people speeding or drinking and driving; we want to stop people engaging in reckless behaviour that endangers their own lives and those of other people in the community."
Some 500 gardai have left the force this year and budgets have been slashed by €20m for 2012. More gardai are expected to take early retirement in the next two months.
Despite falling resources, Mr Twomey said that more than 300,000 motorists had received penalty points this year, which showed that enforcement was a high priority.
Road Safety Authority chief executive Noel Brett added that deaths could fall below 200 this year if people remembered to drive safely.
"Small changes in behaviour and taking personal responsibility save lives and will continue to do so," he said.
Details also emerged yesterday of a garda operation to cut down on the number of people being killed in the capital.
In 2001, 49 people died in Dublin. It fell to 32 in 2009, 19 the following year and to date just nine people have died.
An operation in October and November aimed at protecting so-called vulnerable road users -- cyclists, pedestrians and motorcyclists -- resulted in more than 2,700 motorists being issued with speeding tickets for breaking the speed limits, 1,472 getting points for using their mobile phones and 377 prosecuted for not wearing seatbelts. Some 428 cyclists were summonsed to court for a range of offences.