RSA analysis shows frightening rise of drug-driving in Ireland

RSA analysis shows frightening rise of drug-driving in Ireland
File photo

The Road Safety Authority (RSA) has revealed that drug-driving is a major problem on Ireland’s roads.

At their annual Academic Lecture, the RSA showed that 68% of drivers with a positive roadside drug test between April 2017 and July 2019 had a positive test for cannabis. Cocaine is next with 37%.

They said that the Medical Bureau of Road Safety (MBRS) findings show cannabis is now not far behind alcohol in blood and urine samples it examined.

Minister for Transport, Shane Ross, said: “Driving under the influence of drugs has been a statutory offence since 1961 but it wasn’t until 2017, with the introduction of Preliminary Drug Testing, that we had a drug testing device capable of testing for the presence of drugs in drivers at the roadside and in the Garda station.

"It’s clear that its introduction has resulted in an increase in drug driving detections, but the results presented today show that a continued enforcement and education effort is required to tackle this killer behaviour.”

Moyagh Murdock, Chief Executive of the RSA said: “It’s concerning, because they confirm that drug driving is a major problem on our roads. We will continue to educate drivers on the dangers of driving under the influence of drugs and work closely with the Gardaí to support their enforcement activity.

"But we will do more to examine the factors around drug driving and examine international best practice to find interventions that can be applied here to tackle drug driving.”

Professor Denis A. Cusack, Director of Medical Bureau of Road Safety, acknowledged that drugs driving is now a major problem in Ireland.

He said: "Younger men are the largest age group represented in positive samples.

"Since the introduction of road side screening devices for drugs in April 2017, the Gardaí have been successful in detecting drivers under the influence of drugs in increasing numbers. However there is a need to increase drug testing of drivers in Garda stations.

“Of the 2,144 samples under 80mgs of alcohol BAC in 2018 analysed in the MBRS, 3 out of 4 were positive for drugs and of these 3 out of 4 in turn were positive for cannabis.”

He added that prescribable and over-the-counter drugs are also a problem in Ireland.

He said: "However, this must be seen in context – the presence alone of these drugs in your system is not necessarily a problem, it is when it causes impairment in driving.

"Drivers with medical conditions should continue to take their prescribed medications in accordance with healthcare advice and medical fitness-to-drive guidelines. If you experience impairment speak to your GP or pharmacist.”

The RSA Academic Lecture also unveiled preliminary results from a collaboration between the RSA, Health Research Board (HRB) and MBRS, looking at the presence of drugs among road user fatalities.

    Analyses of the toxicology results of 310 driver and motorcyclists killed during 2013-2016 demonstrated that:

  • 11% had a positive toxicology for at least one benzodiazepine
  • 8% had a positive toxicology for cocaine
  • 7% had a positive toxicology for cannabis

More on this topic

Govt allocates €200k for new health diversion system for people caught with illegal drugsGovt allocates €200k for new health diversion system for people caught with illegal drugs

€70,000 worth of heroin seized at Dublin Airport€70,000 worth of heroin seized at Dublin Airport

Alarm bells ring on our growing use of codeineAlarm bells ring on our growing use of codeine

7,600 people receive opioid-substitution treatment in first six months of 20197,600 people receive opioid-substitution treatment in first six months of 2019


More in this Section

Tusla whistleblower distressed after his complaintTusla whistleblower distressed after his complaint

'More deaths' unless Cold Weather Initiative for homeless activated, charity warns'More deaths' unless Cold Weather Initiative for homeless activated, charity warns

Motorcyclist, 30s, killed after collision with parked car in Co TipperaryMotorcyclist, 30s, killed after collision with parked car in Co Tipperary

HSE has spent almost €7m on private ambulances in eight monthsHSE has spent almost €7m on private ambulances in eight months


Lifestyle

Carol O’Callaghan continues her round-up of home interior shops in country towns and the outer reaches of our cities, finding more treasure troves which offer something new and a touch of exclusivityMade in Munster: The best interior shops in country towns

When the Irish Examiner broke the news that an ultra-inquisitive deer photobombed newlyweds at Killarney’s Ladies View the story went viral.Wedding of the Week: Time for Australian celebrations for bride and groom photobombed by deer

At the start of the 10th and final episode of Confronting: OJ Simpson, a series which has been downloaded over five million times since launching in June, host Kim Goldman is in tears, talking to her father about how strong he was through the murder of her brother, his son,Ron Goldman.Podcast Corner: Host relives brother’s death in famous case

Thomas McCarthy pays tribute to his late friend — poet and journalist Seán Dunne'Seán Dunne was one of the most loved people I ever knew'

More From The Irish Examiner