Alcohol involved in one third of road deaths

Gardaí have appealed to road users to act responsibly over the St Patrick's Weekend and warned that any amount of alcohol can impair driving

Alcohol involved in one third of road deaths

Garda David Maguire and posed model Mark Adams being tested for drink driving | Image: Photocall

Almost one third of people who were killed in Irish road accidents in 2014 had alcohol in their system.

The new statistics have been published by the gardaí and the Road Safety Authority (RSA) ahead of the St Patrick’s Festival as part of an appeal for road users to act responsibly while travelling this weekend.

The warning comes as gardaí said arrests for driving under the influence have risen by 12% so far this year.

March is the second most dangerous month of the year for alcohol related collision and the authorities are again reminding drivers that any amount of alcohol can impair driving – and put others in real danger.

The Minister for Transport Shane Ross said the new figures highlight the need for his new bill which, if passed, will allow for the automatic disqualification of any driver found with a blood alcohol level of between 50mg and 80mg.

“While the findings of this report are very disappointing, I welcome their publication as they highlight that fact that we continue to have an unhealthy relationship in this country with alcohol and it is spilling onto our roads,” he said.

“It is further evidence, if it were needed, that action must be taken to stop people getting behind the wheel of a car or getting onto a motorcycle, having consumed alcohol.”

The report – which provides the most up to date figures on alcohol related road deaths – found that 31% of people killed in road accidents in 2014 had alcohol in their system.

Breaking down those numbers it found that:

  • 33% of drivers / motorcycle riders killed had a positive toxicology for alcohol
  • 35% of car drivers killed had a positive toxicology for alcohol
  • 40% of motorcyclists killed had a positive toxicology for alcohol
  • 28% of pedestrians killed had a positive toxicology for alcohol

The vast majority (96%) of the drivers and motorcycle riders who had a positive toxicology were male – while the average age was 38-years-old.

“Drink-driving destroys lives,” said RSA chief executive, Moyagh Murdock. “At best, you could lose your licence but far worse, is the possibility of seriously injuring or killing someone on the roads.”

“Although the St Patrick’s Festival is a period of national celebration and we want people to have fun, we are reminding road users that March is a real danger zone for alcohol related road deaths.”

Garda Síochána assistant commissioner Michael Finn said the gardaí will be “out in force over the St Patrick’s Day festival.”

“We want everyone to enjoy the St. Patricks Festival without the fear of meeting a driver that’s impaired,” he said. “So this weekend, we ask you to also do your bit to support the local community and stop these drivers from putting lives at risk.

“If they don’t listen, phone the Gardaí and report it - you might save a life.”

So far this year, 33 people have been killed on Irish roads - two fewer than the same period last year.