Gardaí have this week launched their annual Christmas and New Year road safety campaign, which will target drink driving over the holidays.
Over the past five years there have been 83 deaths and 709 serious injuries on Ireland’s roads over the Christmas and New Year’s period.
The most dangerous time identified by the Road Safety Authority was between 4pm and 8pm, where most fatalities occurred. Serious injuries tended to occur predominantly late afternoon and evening.
Deputy Commissioner, Ann Marie McMahon said that during this six week campaign, Gardaí will be conducting Mandatory Intoxicant Testing checkpoints around the country.
“We will also be targeting other lifesaver offences including speeding, not wearing seat belts and mobile phone use by drivers. Members of An Garda Síochána will also focus on unaccompanied driving by learner drivers.”
During this year alone there have been 4,453 drivers arrested on suspicion of drink driving, and 3,333 arrested for drug driving. There have been 120 road traffic fatalities this year to date.
“Members of An Garda Síochána have had to deliver this devastating news to their families. We don’t want to have to deliver this news to your family this Christmas.”
Minister of State Hildegarde Naughton said “While the majority of drivers don’t drink and drive there are still some who persist in this dangerous behaviour.”
“To anyone who thinks it’s ok to drive after drinking alcohol I say you need to understand that if you commit a drink driving offence you will face disqualification from driving for a minimum of three months.”
“Think about how a driving ban would impact your daily life. You will no longer be able to drive to work, drive to the gym or drop the kids off to school.”
“If you are planning on having a drink this festive season or anytime, remember that alcohol and driving do not mix.”
Most arrests for drink driving in males is evenly spread across the late teen to mid-forty age categories, while female arrests peak in the 35 to 44 age group.
Seven out of ten deaths on the roads aver Christmas are men, with males also accounting for almost two thirds of serious injuries.
Liz O’Donnell, Chairperson of the RSA said “Christmas is meant to be one of the happiest times of the year where loved ones gather and memories are made. Unfortunately, every Christmas we see the devastating impact drink-driving has on families.”
“They are reminded of the heart-breaking reality of drink driving every day of the year, but particularly at Christmas by the empty chair at the dinner table where a loved one should be sitting.”