Gardaí plan ‘super checkpoints’ for Easter

MOTORISTS taking to the roads over the Easter holiday period can expect to see a marked increase in Garda surveillance and “super checkpoints”.

Under a special operation beginning tomorrow and running until next Tuesday, extra gardaí will be assigned to speed enforcement duties and drink-driving detection.

In the greater Dublin area alone, the force will operate 16 super checkpoints — heavily resourced checkpoints on main roads allowing for the stopping, checking and mandatory alcohol testing of large numbers of motorists simultaneously.

Excessive speed, drink driving and non-wearing of seat belts continue to remain the key contributory factors to death and serious injury on Irish roads, a Garda spokesman said.

“This latest Dublin operation aims at tackling all of these activities in an endeavour to encourage a positive change in driver attitude and behaviour.”

Extra checkpoints will also be set up across the country over the period, which traditionally sees a surge in road traffic as motorists take advantage of the school holidays and the bank holiday break to get away.

The Road Safety Authority is also leading a motoring safety campaign over the bank holiday weekend. This morning it will launch its Driver Reviver Campaign in an attempt to encourage motorists not to drive while over-tired and to take breaks to refresh themselves during long journeys.

A total of 59 people have died on the roads so far this year, a significant reduction on the 79 who were killed in the same period last year, which was itself an improvement on the previous year.

By the end of 2008, road accidents had claimed 279 lives compared with 338 in 2007 and Garda management are keen to see the downward trend continue.

Progress has been particularly notable in the greater Dublin area this year, with just one fatality to date compared with 11 in the same period last year and 10 in 2007. “This is a very welcome development and An Garda Síochána would use this opportunity to compliment the contribution of the various agencies involved in road safety and particularly the motoring public,” the spokesman said.

“Unfortunately, there has been an increase in the number of persons arrested on suspicion of drunk and drug driving. A total of 69 persons were arrested during the Easter period in 2008, which represented a 41% increase on the previous year.” Countrywide, 564 people were arrested for drink driving during Holy Week last year, a 45% increase on the number in 2007.

Several major social and sporting events will attract heavy traffic in various parts of the country over the weekend. Tina Turner performs two more concerts at the O2 in Dublin on Saturday and Sunday, the Heineken Cup quarter final takes place at Thomond Park on Easter Sunday and racing festivals will be held at Cork and Fairyhouse.

Road safety campaigners are hoping the brighter evenings will contribute to safer outings this year. Last year the Easter period was in March, prior to the clocks going forward.

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