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Monday 19 February 2018

Gardai upping number of round-the-clock patrols to catch drink-drivers in summer blitz

Warning message: RSA chief Moyagh Murdock. Photo: Damien Eagers
Warning message: RSA chief Moyagh Murdock. Photo: Damien Eagers
Wayne O'Connor

Wayne O'Connor

A huge garda clampdown is under way to tackle drink-driving after it was revealed that the number of people dying on Irish roads at weekends has risen by 50pc.

Gardaí are upping the number of round-the-clock patrols and specifically targeting times and areas where drink-driving occurs most.

The regime will be continued through July and August, which are often the most dangerous months for road fatalities.

The drink-driving clampdown is being organised in association with the RSA as part of a new enforcement and education offensive. It aims to lower the number of road deaths, after research by the National Drug-Related Death Index (NDRDI) showed that almost four out of 10 (38pc) fatal crashes are linked to alcohol.

Already this year, 87 people have been killed on the country's roads - 12 more than in the same period last year.

Garda National Traffic Bureau Superintendent Con O'Donohue said gardaí were making a huge effort to get drink-drivers off the road.

"We are placing a particular emphasis on targeting drink-driving late at night over weekends," he said.

"Everyone, including the authorities must take all necessary and urgent steps to reverse the upward trend in road deaths."

Together, Cork, Galway, Dublin, Donegal and Cavan accounted for more than 40pc of the drink driving fatalities this year.

Meanwhile, Cork accounted for one-fifth of all road deaths so far in 2016, with 16 fatalities.

Gardaí will carry out an extra seven national 24-hour operations targeting drink-drivers this month.

"My colleagues around the country will put additional effort into targeting those counties that have a track record of drink-driving related fatalities," said Supt O'Donohue.

"For our part, An Garda Síochána is increasing its day- to-day enforcement activity in July and August."

The NDRDI report confirms the findings of the RSA's recent Pre-Crash Report on Alcohol, which was published last month. It found that alcohol was a factor in 38pc of all fatal crashes.

Drivers accounted for 29pc of the road deaths where drink was a factor in crashes between 2008 and 2012.

Read more: New plan to make drink drivers re-sit test after ban

RSA chief executive Moyagh Murdock said the new campaign was urging people to make smart decisions.

"Our message, which is particularly aimed at young people, is not to let your summertime turn to tragedy, not to let the local roads you drive become lethal because of stupid, reckless choices you made. Choices that could affect you for the rest of your life if you are involved in a drink-driving incident.

"We want people to think of the possible consequences."

Ms Murdock added that the consequences were also severe for those who survived accidents where alcohol had been a factor. "A drink-driving disqualification could affect your employment prospects.

"You may never be able to travel to the US or [you may] face a lifetime of shame from having someone's serious injury or death on your conscience.

"The RSA will be supporting An Garda Síochána's drink-driving enforcement blitz with an awareness effort that includes a radio, online and poster campaign targeting pubs and clubs nationwide."

Irish Independent

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