Fewer checkpoints and surveillance is “probably one of the reasons” why road deaths have spiked by 20% this year, according to Transport Minister Shane Ross.
His comments come as new Garda figures show that drink-driving arrests have jumped by almost one third this Christmas, with more than 500 people arrested in the past three weeks.
Mr Ross said it was now a crisis situation in the area of road safety and said new laws to test for drug driving and to tackle uninsured driving would come into force in the next few weeks.
The transport minister said fewer checkpoints and surveillance was probably one of the reasons for the rise in deaths on the road
“I think there is a large number of reasons. I think a lot of it is also to do with the attitudes of people, particularly younger men, as we can see from the arrest figures coming out today around drink driving and that’s very serious. We have got to address it, as a matter of serious urgency now.
“We’ve heard the figures of the deaths on the roads which are up 20% this year already. That is just completely and utterly unacceptable,” he told RTÉ.
Garda figures show since the beginning of its annual drink-driving safety campaign three weeks ago, the number of arrests have spiked 34% when compared to the same period last year.
Some 40 people were arrested over the past two days. All of those detained were men aged between 22 and 69.
Assistant garda commissioner Michael Finn said the force was very frustrated at the increase despite the wide-ranging campaign urging people to not drink and drive.
“Nine of them we arrested at checkpoints. Five of them were involved in collisions, but the majority of them were people that we intercepted ourselves driving impaired. Some were arrested for speeding as well as drink driving. All of these people are putting other road users at risk,” he told RTÉ.
Assistant commissioner Finn said the issue of drink driving was the biggest problem on the roads this year and said some people are caught being over the limit while working the day after socialising.
“We arrested two people driving articulated lorries in the morning who were still over the limit from socialising the night before. These are people with major, serious vehicles putting the lives of other road users at risk because they are driving while impaired. We have to get the message across to not drink and drive,” he said.
Garda checkpoints are up 45% compared to last year and will continue until January 8.
The Road Safety Authority fatal collisions report launched earlier this year highlighted alcohol as a major contributory factor in 38% of all fatal collisions between 2008 and 2012.
In response to these figures, Drinkaware has launched its Christmas campaign ‘Had Enough’.
- Fiachra Ó Cionnaith
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved