New road safety plan launched

PEOPLE must always refuse lifts from drink-drivers because they may never get home, a Government minister warned yesterday.

Minister of State for Transport Pat Gallagher made the call as he launched a major road safety campaign in his native Co Donegal, one of the country’s worst accident blackspots.

Up to 205 people have been killed in road collisions across Ireland so far this year, a 15% increase on the same period in 2005.

The Donegal South West TD warned that drink driving continues to be a major contributory factor to deaths and injuries on Irish roads.

He said that over 4,000 people were convicted of drink driving offences last year, an increase of 30% over 2004.

The latest campaign initiative in Co Donegal is aimed at reducing road carnage in the county, which is managed by the Donegal Road Safety Working Group.

The campaign focuses on drink driving with the slogan being: ‘One drink is one drink too many. Never ever drink and drive.’

Joined by Road Safety Authority chairman Gay Byrne for the launch in Letterkenny, Mr Gallagher said the Road Traffic Bill had finally become law.

“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,” he said.

The legislation has also paved the way for the outsourcing of several hundred speed cameras, which will be managed by gardaí and the Department of Justice.

“The Road Traffic Bill will also enable the Gardaí to operate, for the first time, mandatory roadside breath testing,” Mr Gallagher added.

“This, I hope will have a significant impact on driver behaviour in general, and in particular on those who persistently drink and drive.”

The TD remarked that combating drink driving required a balanced and sustained programme involving enforcement, public information campaigns and a range of hard-hitting deterrents, including driving disqualifications.

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