Petition calls for alcohol testing of drivers in crashes

GRIEVING families yesterday hand-delivered a 20,000-signature petition to the Transport Minister calling on him to introduce mandatory alcohol testing for all drivers involved in road accidents.

Members of the group Public Against Road Carnage (PARC) protested outside the Dáil before handing their demands into Transport Minister Martin Cullen’s offices.

The petition, collected in Leitrim, follows a separate 20,000-signature petition collected, last July, in Donegal.

Despite the introduction of random breath testing, gardaí are not compelled to test drivers involved in road traffic accidents (RTAs). It is at a garda’s discretion.

However, PARC warn that if Ireland wants road fatalities to decrease, it must make the testing of drivers in RTAs compulsory, where such a move in Belgium, Luxemburg and Britain has helped save lives.

“Drivers responsible for deaths are not all tested in hospitals,” said Susan Gray, a PARC member, whose husband, Steve, was killed in an accident on St Stephen’s Day, 2004.

Theresa Leonard, who lost her son, Aidan, in a crash in 2005, said all the importance was being placed on the constitutional rights of a driver rather than a victim’s right to know the cause of an accident.

According to PARC, the North’s Police Ombudsman Nuala O’Loan has backed the campaign here and signed the petition. In the North, all drivers in fatal as well as non-fatal accidents are tested for alcohol.

A host of politicians backed calls for the mandatory crash alcohol testing.

Garda Commissioner Conroy has allegedly told PARC his hands are tied according to legislation and all he can do is send a directive to gardaí recommending that all drivers in crashes be tested.

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