Drug driving will 'very shortly' exceed drink driving, garda warns

Assistant commissioner in charge of roads policing, David Sheahan, said that five out of six people tested positive at a roadside drug test in Dublin over the weekend.

Drug driving will 'very shortly' exceed drink driving, garda warns

Drug driving will “very shortly” exceed drink driving, a senior garda officer has warned.

Assistant commissioner in charge of roads policing, David Sheahan, said that five out of six people tested positive at a roadside drug test in Dublin over the weekend.

Only one person was found to be over the limit in respect of alcohol which showed that drug driving had become more prevalent.

“Alcohol is still a factor but it is very shortly going to be surpassed by drugs,” said the assistant commissioner.

He also warned that detections for drug driving had risen significantly.

“Drivers need to realise that the days of avoiding detection for drug driving are over and that we are determined to stamp out this killer behaviour,” he said.

Figures released by the Road Safety Authority show that drug driving has become a major problem on Ireland's roads.

It emerged that almost seven out of 10 (68%) of drivers with a positive roadside drug test had tested positive for cannabis between April 2017 and July this year. More than a third (37%) of samples tested were found to be positive for cocaine.

The findings from the Medical Bureau of Road Safety also show that cannabis is not far behind alcohol in blood and urine samples it examined.

RSA chief executive, Moyagh Murdock, said they will continue to educate drivers on the dangers of drug driving and support the gardai in enforcing the law.

An analysis of toxicology results of 310 driver and motorcyclists killed between 2013 and 2016 shows that 8% tested positive for cocaine and 7% for cannabis.

Just over one in 10 (11%) tested positive for at least one benzodiazepine — a class of psychoactive drugs used to treat a range of conditions, including anxiety and insomnia.

Director of the MBRS, Prof Denis A Cusack, said younger men are the largest age group to have a sample test positive for drugs.

“Of the 2,144 samples under 80mgs of alcohol (blood alcohol content) in 2018 analysed in the MBRS, three out of four were positive for drugs and of these three out of four, in turn, were positive for cannabis,” said Prof Cusack.

While prescribable and over-the-counter drugs are "a real problem" they must be seen in context, he said. Their presence alone is only a problem when it causes impairment in driving.

Prof Cusack said greater penalties should be considered in cases where someone is found to have a higher level of drugs and alcohol in their system.

Meanwhile, car technology manufacturer, Nextbase, has announced that it is donating 10% of its Irish dashcam profits to the Irish Road Victims Association that provides information and support to those bereaved or injured by road traffic collisions.

Research conducted by Nextbase in Britain shows that drivers with a dashcam installed in their vehicles have improved their driving behaviour and IRVA believe such results could be replicated in Ireland to dramatically increase road safety.

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