Christmas on the roads: Irish Times view on drink driving
Average of more than 600 offences were detected every month this year
A garda drink driving check point. Photograph: Cyril Byrne
Few things can be more devastating for a family than spending the Christmas period mourning a loved one, killed on the roads. Yet thousands of drivers will risk this prospect during the coming weeks when, with drink taken, they sit behind the wheels of their cars. Not only will they pose a danger to themselves and to others; they may lose their licences and their livelihoods if detected by the Garda Síochána.
The Garda’s roads policing section has been enlarged and equipped with new technologies to make it more efficient in enforcing traffic laws. Some 150 new gardaí have been assigned to regional roads policing units this year and 85 more are to be deployed in Dublin over the holiday period. An increase in the number of roadside checks for a range of offences can be expected, as a deterrent. The high number of men and women who drink and drive emphasises the need for a more visible Garda presence. During 2018, an average of more than 600 drink driving offences, per month, were detected.
One-in-eight motorists questioned in a recent survey by the Automobile Association admitted to driving while over the legal limit during the previous two years. That behaviour shows a wilful disregard for the law and a casual approach to road safety. Men and woman were equally at fault. But males between the ages of 17 and 24 years were twice as likely to have engaged in drink driving as men over 65 years of age.
Young men account for the highest death rate on the roads: one-third of all fatalities. Pedestrians are equally vulnerable, followed by motorcyclists and cyclists. Not all motoring deaths are drink-related. Speeding, not wearing a seat belt and the use of mobile phones all contribute. Alcohol, however, remains a prime factor. The Road Safety Authority believes drink is involved in 38 per cent of all road crashes.
Having a good time does not mean swearing off alcohol during the holiday period. But it should involve personal discipline, when necessary, and a regard for others. That way, everyone can enjoy a happy Christmas.