Festive drink-drive campaign to target ‘morning-after’ offenders

Garda to pay particular attention to drivers using bus lanes and mobile phones illegally

The number  of roadside checkpoints testing for alcohol is to be increased for the next six weeks and the Garda will  pay particular attention to drivers using bus lanes and mobile phones. Those stopped for either offence are likely to find themselves breath-tested.  File photograph: Philip Toscano/PA Wire

The number of roadside checkpoints testing for alcohol is to be increased for the next six weeks and the Garda will pay particular attention to drivers using bus lanes and mobile phones. Those stopped for either offence are likely to find themselves breath-tested. File photograph: Philip Toscano/PA Wire

 

The seasonal anti-drink drive campaign this year is to target so-called morning-after drivers.

The number and frequency of roadside checkpoints testing for alcohol is to be increased for the next six weeks and the Garda will also be paying particular attention to drivers using bus lanes and mobile phones illegally.

Those stopped for either offence are likely to find themselves breath-tested as well.

Announcing the Christmas/New Year campaign on Thursday, the Garda and Road Safety Authority disclosed that this year, to the end of October, 6,000 drivers had been arrested on suspicion of drink-driving - the vast majority of them males, and more than half of them aged between 20 and 39.

“The powers of An Garda Síochána enable us to breath test any driver who has committed a road traffic offence,” said Chief Supt Mark Curran at the launch of the campaign on Thursday.

Road Safety Authority Christmas campaign

“So, for example, if you are detected driving in a bus lane, or using a mobile phone, you can be tested for the presence of alcohol.”

Impaired performance

Irish and international research has shown that using a mobile phone while driving can impair driver performance even more than driving while intoxicated, and also delay driver reaction times by up to 40 per cent.

In the past 12 months, 284,000 drivers admitted to drink-driving, according to an RSA survey. Arrest rates ran at a rate of 150 a week. Of the 284,000, 10 per cent admitted to drink driving on at least one separate occasion.

Forty per cent admitted consuming two or more drinks. Rates of offending were higher among those who drove to work and among drivers involved in collisions or near misses. In general, such drivers were also likely “to be high speeding and rule violators”, said the Garda and RSA.

Mandatory tests

The number of mandatory alcohol test checkpoints are to be increased, Mr Curran warned.

The chief executive of the RSA, Moyagh Murdock, said any quantity of alcohol impaired driving.

“This is not an opinion,” she said. “It is a scientific fact. So if you are heading to an office party or socialising over the Christmas and New Year period, make sure you plan ahead. Leave the keys at home and book a taxi, hackney, use public transport or designate a driver.”

This year to November 25th, 143 people were killed in road crashes, many of them relating to drink. The figure is 32 down on the same period in 2014.