Irish Examiner – Drink-drive detection 7 times EU rate

A study of Europe-wide police road safety operations has revealed drink- and drug-driving detection rates in Ireland are among the highest on the continent.

Almost one million motorists across Europe were tested for alcohol and drugs over seven days in June for Tispol, the European Traffic Police Network.

A total of 17,705 alcohol offences and 1,636 drug offences were detected in 28 countries, including Ireland.

The rate of detection in Ireland for drink-driving was the highest among the states surveyed and more than seven times the European average.

More than 13% of motorists tested here during the operation were above the legal drink-driving limit compared to the European average of just under 2%.

The rate in Britain was 5.5%. and in Poland it was just 1.4%.

The drug-driving rate in the Republic was 0.6% – the European average was 0.2%.

Out of 1,538 drivers stopped at checkpoints here, 205 motorists were caught drink-driving and nine for drug-driving.

In contrast, of more than 37,000 drivers tested in Finland, just 96 were found to be over the alcohol limit and only four were incapacitated by drugs.

Road Safety Authority chief executive Noel Brett said he was concerned about the high detection rates, particularly given that the drink-driving limit in Ireland is higher than most other EU countries.

“It makes the situation even more serious.”

However, Mr Brett said the introduction of a lower drink-driving limit and regular drug-driving tests in September, combined with the mandatory testing of all motorists involved in accidents, should act as a further deterrent against such unacceptable behaviour.

“There is a core group of motorists who habitually persist in driving after consuming large quantities of alcohol. The changes coming in next month should further increase the risk that they will be caught and put off the road.”

He was also pleased that enforcement levels by gardaí were at record levels.

Last week, the Department of Transport revealed that there had been a 46% increase in the number of detected speeding offences in 2011 since the introduction of private speed cameras.
Source: Irish Examiner – 02/08/11
Journalist: Seán McCárthaig