Transport Minister, Martin Cullen, T.D. today (Thursday 23 November 2006) launched the Christmas anti-drink driving campaign organised by the Road Safety Authority.
The campaign, which involves both radio and television advertising, aims to support the anti-drink driving enforcement activity of An Garda Siochána. The advert theme is 'Just one drink impairs driving' and adverts will receive airplay over the Christmas and New Year period.
Speaking at today's launch, Minister Cullen said: "In December last year (2005), forty people lost their lives on our roads. That cold statistic does not even remotely reflect the number of people whose lives were changed forever as a result of being injured in a road collision or being a family member of those killed or injured. This situation cannot continue". The Minister added: "While drink driving is not acceptable at any time of year, it is appropriate that we are particularly conscious of the dangers of drink driving in the days leading up to and over the holiday period. This is a time when there tends to be more social activity. It is a traditional celebratory time, with thousands of extra journeys being made by car. Unfortunately it can also be a time of great pain and sorrow with collisions and fatal traffic accidents on our roads".
Drink driving is one of the key reasons road collisions occur. Minister Cullen referred to a new study, (with information gathered from the Garda National Traffic Bureau), which indicates that alcohol was a factor in 36.5% of fatal collisions in 2003. Dr. Declan Bedford, an author of the study, also found that in 62% of single-vehicle, single-occupant fatal collisions, alcohol was a factor.
The Minister said: "These findings are very disturbing. The Road Traffic Act 2006 provides for the introduction of Mandatory Alcohol Testing (MAT), which gives the Gardaí the power and the right to administer a breath test to a motorist stopped at a MAT checkpoint without individual suspicion that the motorist has consumed alcohol. Since its introduction in July this year, the Gardaí are now conducting over 30,000 MAT breath tests on motorists each month".
Minister Cullen pointed out that the increased deterrent effect from the introduction of this provision should have a significant impact on driver behaviour in general, and in particular on those who persistently drink and drive. "The chances of being detected drink driving have never been so great," he added.
Commending the efforts of both the Road Safety Authority and the Gardaí in curbing the number of deaths on our roads, the Minister urged all road users to drive with caution, avoid drinking at all if driving, and to exercise responsibility at all times on our roads. "With your co-operation we can make this Christmas a safe one," the Minister concluded.
To view the study mentioned above which is titled: 'Alcohol in fatal road crashes in Ireland in 2003' by D Bedford, N McKeown, A Vellinga, F Howell. Population Health Directorate, Health Service Executive, 2006 visit www.rsa.ie. The study is based on data gathered from fatal road crash files contained in the Garda National Traffic Bureau.
Issued by: Michelle Hoctor, 087 8563070
Veronica Scanlan, 087 6430622