The Road Safety Authority (RSA) and An Garda Síochána are warning road users of the dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs ahead of the May Bank Holiday Weekend. The appeal follows the recent introduction of Preliminary Drug Testing.
Drivers are being reminded that the Gardaí will be setting up Mandatory Intoxicant Testing Checkpoints at which they will be testing drivers for both alcohol and drugs at the roadside. Checkpoints will be in place throughout the country over the May Bank Holiday Weekend. Since April 13 the Gardaí have new powers to conduct Preliminary Drug Tests. This means Gardaí can test drivers for drugs, similar to breath testing. By taking a swab of a driver’s oral fluid, the presence of cannabis, cocaine, opiates (e.g. heroin, morphine) and benzodiazepines (e.g. Valium) can be detected.
Falling asleep at the wheel is also a problem over Bank Holiday Weekends and it is estimated that driver fatigue is a contributory factor in as many as 1 in 5 driver deaths in Ireland every year. To help drivers stay alert behind the wheel over the May Bank Holiday Weekend, the RSA and Applegreen will provide free cups of coffee to drivers between 2pm and 8pm on Friday, April 28 and Monday, May 1 at participating service stations.
Simply say ‘RSA’ or ‘Driver Reviver’ to the till operator to avail of a free coffee. A list of participating stations is available at www.applegreenstores.com/ie/ locations
Assistant Commissioner Michael Finn, Roads Policing, An Garda Síochána, said: "Members of An Garda Síochána will be out in force over the Bank Holiday Weekend to keep the roads safe from careless and dangerous drivers. This weekend we will be targeting drivers who break our road safety laws by driving under the influence of alcohol, which impairs driving and increases driver fatigue. We will also be paying particular attention to the ever growing threat that drug driving poses to our safety on the road.”
Assistant Commissioner Finn continued: "Our new drug testing machines can identify 4 drugs. Cannabis, Cocaine, Opiates and Benzodiazapines. Drivers with cannabis, cocaine or heroin in their system are automatically committing an offence. Drivers on prescription or over the counter drugs are only committing an offence, if their driving is impaired. An Garda Síochána urges everyone to always take prescribed or over the counter medication in accordance with the instructions given, particularly in relation to dosage. If you have concerns, contact your doctor or pharmacist. There is also a substantial amount of information available on the RSA website. The essential thing is you do not drive if you are impaired, by either drugs or alcohol. ”
Research has shown that alcohol is a factor in 38% of fatal crashes. It is also an established scientific fact that the impairing effect of alcohol is doubled when a driver is tired. So even small amounts to alcohol can have devastating consequences if you are tired. Drug driving is estimated to be a contributory factor in one in ten road deaths.
To date this year, 50 people have been killed on Irish roads, which is four less when compared to the same period last year. Last year two people were killed on Irish roads over the May bank holiday weekend, while there were 169 arrests for drink driving.