Pat the Cope Gallagher Endorses Road Safety Campaign -
Never Ever Drink & Drive
Minister of State for Transport, Pat the Cope Gallagher, T.D. today (Friday, 7th July 2006) launched a Road Safety Campaign in Letterkenny, County Donegal. Gay Byrne, Chairman Designate of the Road Safety Authority, joined him. It is the third in a series of campaigns this year, aimed at reducing the road carnage in the county, which is managed by the Donegal Road Safety Working Group. Today's campaign focuses on drink driving - its slogan being "One drink is one drink too many. Never ever drink and drive."
At the launch, Minister Gallagher said that he was particularly pleased that both Houses of the Oireachtas have now passed the Road Traffic Bill. The Minister said: "This Summer we will see mandatory breath testing and the ban on holding a mobile phone while driving, major steps forward in tackling the carnage on our roads. The Road Traffic Bill has also paved the way for the introduction of several hundred speed cameras, which will be managed by the Gardai and the Department of Justice.
"Drink driving continues to be a major contributory factor to deaths and injuries on our roads. Over 4,000 people were convicted of drink driving offences last year, an increase of 30% over 2004. The Road Traffic Bill will enable the Gardai to operate, for the first time, mandatory roadside breath testing. This, I hope will have a significant impact on driver behaviour in general, and in particular on those who persistently drink and drive."
Minister Gallagher went on to say that addressing the problem of drink driving requires "a balanced and sustained programme that must involve enforcement, public information campaigns and the application of a range of hard hitting deterrents, including driving disqualifications. We need everyone's co-operation in order to make this a safe summer. While the enforcement of traffic laws is a top priority, each of us who use the roads carry a clear responsibility for our own safety and that of others. Every one of us has a responsibility to always obey traffic laws and drink driving is not exception. Indeed, were all of us to refuse travelling with someone who insists on drink driving, our roads would be much safer and lives would be saved."
The Minister thanked Donegal County Council for developing the local awareness campaign along with the Donegal Road Safety Working Group. Local initiatives such as this, he said, play a pivotal role in improving road safety. A co-ordinated approach, which harnesses the input of local communities and society in general, works best in improving road safety. He also urged all road users to exercise care on the roads during the holiday period, when thousands of extra journeys are made by car, coach, etc. "The message is clear. Obey the speed limit. Wear your seat belt and never ever drink and drive", said the Minister.