A mother who lost her son to a drunk driver in Castlemartyr, Co.Cork in 2009 has urged road users to think twice before they consider getting behind the wheel of a car while under the influence, reports Robert McNamara.
Christina Donnelly traveled from her home in Waterford to Castlemartyr on Christmas day to lay a wreath at the plaque on the road where her 24-year-old son Brendan died seven years ago.
“People always think, it won't happen to them but the figures for this year are painful. I would say to anyone thinking of drink driving, can you live with the consequences?”
Deaths on Irish roads have risen by 20 so far this year with 186 fatalities in 2016 compared to 166 in 2015.
Meanwhile, a new Road Traffic Bill will give Gardaí the power to test drivers for drugs at the roadside.
Under the Road Traffic Bill 2016, passed by the Oireachtas last week, drivers may be asked to undergo a preliminary test for drug intake of substances such as heroin, morphine and a range of benzodiazepines immediately after being stopped.
“The new powers given to the Gardaí to test for drugs at the roadside will allow them to test for a wide range of drugs which could not be previously tested for. These represent 95% of all drugs found by the Medical Bureau of Road Safety in samples sent to it for confirmatory testing in 2015,” said Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross.
The Minister confirmed that drivers taking prescribed medications would not be disqualified.
The new bill will also clamp down on unaccompanied learner drivers and uninsured drivers.
The Bill will also allow for detailed information from insurance companies to be passed onto the Gardaí and checked against the Garda Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) system.
Inspector Finbarr O'Sullivan of the Cork city Traffic Corp has welcomed the Bill.
”It will have a big impact on the capabilities of the Gardaí to detect drug driving offences and it is certainly to be welcomed as something that will reduce drug driving statistics on the road positively.
A total of 646 people were detected driving under the influence by Gardaí in November.
This story first appeared in the Evening Echo.