The message this Christmas from the Donegal Road Safety Working Group is to never, ever drink or drug drive. The message in the campaign is that drink driving destroys lives, families and communities. As the festive season approaches, stark warnings have been issued to road-users about the consequences of drink-driving.
The DRSWG are urging drivers to be aware of the affects that alcohol can have the morning after a night of drinking. The appeal is for motorists to drive responsibly over the Christmas and New Year period as alcohol continues to be a significant contributory factor in fatal collisions.
Statistics show that 11% of fatal collisions in which a driver had consumed alcohol occurred between the hours of 7am and 11am and figures also show that 6% of all driving under the influence arrests have also taken place within this 4 hour period. Gardaí will be increasing the number of checkpoints over the Christmas period, which will be run on a 24/7 basis and gardaí can breath test any driver that has committed any road traffic offence.
Gardaí and the PSNI have launched their annual cross border Christmas Drink Driving campaign which is supported by the Donegal Road Safety Working Group as part of their ongoing road safety awareness programme and also reinforces the continued co-operation between both forces with regard to road safety on both sides of the border.
Inspector Michael Harrison said: "The dangers of drinking and driving are well documented and people should be aware that any amount of alcohol in your system can affect your driving. Driving safely requires a lot of skill and alcohol will impair your driving ability. During this Christmas period I ask all drivers not to put their and other people’s lives in danger by drinking and driving. An Garda Síochána have commenced the Christmas Drink Driving campaign, 11 people already have been arrested and drivers must also be aware that we are now testing drivers for drug use as well. Our primary objective is to save lives so I ask drivers never to drink and drive."
The Donegal County Council Road Safety Officer, Brian O’Donnell, said: "It is very difficult to calculate how many drinks a person can have before being over the limit. If you have been out drinking until two or three in the morning, there is a big risk, particularly if you are a learner driver or a novice driver where the limit is lower, not only of being caught but also of being involved in a collision and causing injury or killing someone. The advice and bottom line is, don’t drink and drive. I would also appeal to passengers, not to take a lift from a driver who has been drinking, if you do, you are putting your life in the hands of a drunk driver. Just one drink impairs your driving – that is not an opinion, it is a fact. Christmas and the New Year is a time for enjoying family, friends and social events, one second, one wrong decision and it can change yours and everyone’s lives around you forever."
To date, 142 people have been killed on Irish roads this year, a decrease of 7 compared to the same period last year. Ten people have tragically been killed in Donegal to date.
The DRSWG would like to take this opportunity to wish all road users a Happy and Safe Christmas and New Year.