One person per hour arrested for intoxicated driving since new road safety campaign launched

New initiative aimed at vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, some 43 of whom have died on Irish roads in 2023, says Minister of State

14/03/2022  A Garda with an intoxilyzer alcohol meter  pictured this morning at a Garda checkpoint on Chapelizod Road, Dublin  at the launch of an appeal by the Road Safety Authority (RSA) and An Garda Síochána for their St. Patrick’s Weekend Bank Holiday road safety appeal. The RSA and An Garda Síochána will focus their appeal on drink driving but particularly drink driving the morning after.....Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

One person per hour is being arrested for drink or drug driving since the Garda’s Christmas and new year road safety campaign was launched three weeks ago.

The campaign is being waged in the light of a significant increase in the number of people who have lost their lives on Irish roads this year.

Up to Thursday morning, 181 people have been killed on the State’s roads in 2023, according to the Garda website. The figure is 30 more than during a similar period last year.

Speaking at a campaign update located at a Garda checkpoint on Dublin’s Chapelizod Road, Minister of State for Transport Jack Chambers said Christmas would be a “heartbreaking time” for 181 families this year because they have lost a family member to road deaths.


Mr Chambers said the campaign was particularly aimed at vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, some 43 of whom have lost their lives this year. “We are really trying to re-emphasise to motorists to slow down this Christmas and protect vulnerable road users,” he said.

Garda Chief Supt Jane Humphreys said “already from the first of December we have had one arrest per hour for intoxicated driving. That in itself is absolutely shocking”.

Mr Chambers said progress was made in road safety efforts with the publication of the new Road Traffic Bill this week. It provides for a Statewide reduction in speed limits. The limit on local and rural roads is set to drop from 80km/h to 60km/h. Within towns, cities, and residential areas a limit of 30km/h will apply. Roads on the fringes of urban areas will be capped at 50km/h.

Mr Chambers said the legislation to give effect to the speed limit review would likely be through the Dáil in January and would be followed by the publication of new guidelines for local authorities to use when considering their reviews. He said the advantage of local authorities carrying out the review was that they were aware of where there might be, for example, engineering difficulties with certain stretches of roads, which require lower limits.

Asked why provision for higher levels of penalty points at weekend or other high risk times was not included in the current Road Traffic Bill, Mr Chambers said time and legal advice had been factors. He said the Government had tried to include this aspect in the Bill and engaged with the Attorney General on the point. “And the advice we received was that it would take a significant number of months to finalise the draft ... so as Minister I wanted to progress the other road safety initiatives before Christmas” he said.

Mr Chambers also said local authorities would consult neighbouring local authorities to give consistency to speed limits on roads which cross county boundaries.

He said the timeline for implementation was likely to be “the back end of next year”.

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Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien is an Irish Times journalist