News Irish News

Saturday 24 August 2019

'Killer behaviour' - warning to motorists as arrests for drink and drug driving soar

Gardai will be testing for drink and drugs driving this weekend
Gardai will be testing for drink and drugs driving this weekend
Eddie Cunningham

Eddie Cunningham

STARTLING new figures show there has been a big increase in the number of people arrested for drink and drug driving.

The Garda statistics are revealed as drug drivers, in particular, face being specially targeted over the bank holiday weekend as part of a comprehensive safety drive.

Also prompting concern over driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a Medical Bureau of Road Safety (MBRS) report.

It says there has been a 43pc increase in the number of blood and urine specimens submitted for analysis in first four months of 2019.

Along with the Garda report highlighting a 15pc increase in arrests for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI) over the same period, the figures paint a frightening picture of some drivers’ disregard for their safety and that of other road users.

The Garda report shows there were 2,694 DUI arrests from January to April this year compared with 2,343 for the corresponding period in 2018.

Meanwhile, cannabis was the most common illegal drug detected in drivers last year. Professor Denis Cusack, director of the MBRS, said alcohol was the most frequently detected drug in driving; cannabis was next, while cocaine overtook benzodiazepines to be third.

Read More: Explainer: How do speed vans work and is there a person inside them - all your questions answered

Transport Minister Shane Ross said the relatively recent introduction of drug-driving tests has made a big contribution to tackling what he described as “killer behaviour”.

Road Safety Authority (RSA) chief Moyagh Murdock said anyone driving under the influence of drugs is a clear danger to themselves and others.

RSA research shows many drivers believe certain drugs don’t impair them in the same way as alcohol. “They also tend to overestimate their driving ability and show little understanding of how drugs affect their driving,” she added. With gardai now equipped to detect drugs, she said you’d be “out of your mind to drug drive”.

Members of the Garda Roads Policing Unit will carry out roadside screenings for drugs at special checkpoints countrywide – as well as targeting speeding, mobile phone and seatbelt use.

Online Editors

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News