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Saturday 18 November 2017

Roadside drug tests planned in bid to cut deaths

Allison Bray

Allison Bray

ROADSIDE drug tests, increased penalty points for speeding and new rules for learner drivers will be introduced in a bid to cut road deaths.

The number of fatal road injuries so far this year is "deeply worrying" according to Transport Minister Leo Varadkar as he published the new Road Traffic Bill 2013.

To date, 91 people have died on our roads since January compared with 89 for the same time last year and 88 in 2011.

And even though Ireland is now recognised as a road safety champion within the European Union the gradual ramping-up of road fatalities over the past two years is a cause for concern, he added.

"Last year saw the lowest number of deaths ever recorded on Irish roads, but the rise in fatalities so far this year is deeply worrying," he said at an ETSC conference on road safety in Dublin yesterday.

The bill, which he promised to introduce as soon as possible, contains several measures to tackle road deaths – many of which were previously revealed in the Irish Independent.

SPEED

It will legislate for roadside testing for driving under the influence of drugs, as well as introduce more penalty points for drivers who speed, use mobile phones while driving and don't wear seatbelts.

And for the first time, the bill will give gardai the authority to conduct blood tests on unconscious drivers who are incapacitated by an collision to determine if drugs or alcohol were in their system at the time of an accident.

However the permission of a doctor treating the injured driver would be required before the sample is taken. The driver will also be required to give his or her permission before the results of the sample can be revealed.

The bill will also introduce a new designation for novice drivers who must display an 'N' plate on their cars for the first two years after they get a drivers licence.

Novice and learner drivers will also be taken off the road if they rack up six penalty points, compared to 12 for fully qualified drivers.

Mr Varadkar said the measures should reduce road deaths by specifically targeting drivers who are impaired, inexperienced or irresponsible.

Gardai said that drivers should pay particular attention to the roads today in what it called Fatal Friday.

They said 25pc of all road fatalities take place between 2pm and 6pm on the eve of the weekend.

Irish Independent

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