Road safety group concerned at low conviction rates for speeding and phone-use

More than 900 people were arrested for driving while intoxicated over six weeks at the end of last year

The Christmas Road Safety Campaign, which ran from November 26th to January 4th, saw 914 people arrested for driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Photograph: John Giles/PA Wire

The Christmas Road Safety Campaign, which ran from November 26th to January 4th, saw 914 people arrested for driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Photograph: John Giles/PA Wire

 

More than 900 people were arrested for driving while intoxicated over six weeks at the end of last year, Garda figures show.

In a statement An Garda Síochána said there were 35 drink- and drug-driving arrests on New Year’s Day alone.

The Christmas Road Safety Campaign, which ran from November 26th to January 4th, saw 914 people arrested for driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

There were also 13,950 speeding offences detected, 1,269 fixed charge notices issued for use of mobile phones while driving, 310 fixed charge notices issued for non-wearing of seatbelts, and 525 notices for learner drivers driving while unaccompanied by a qualified driver.

Susan Gray of road safety group Parc said “the very success of the Christmas campaign shows that there are still people out there who think they can drink and drive use mobile phones and not obey other rules of the road”.

Ms Gray, who founded Parc 2006 after her husband Steve died in a road traffic collision in 2004, said figures from the Court Service given to Catherine Murphy TD showed conviction rates for driving while holding a mobile phone were as low as 25 per cent nationally between 2018 and 2020.

“Mayo showed the lowest rate in 2018 with an 8 per cent conviction rate, which means that 92 per cent of people there were not convicted”.

She also said there are disturbing figures for conviction rates for speeding offences. “The lowest was again Mayo, where conviction rates were just 7 per cent for the three years.”

Ms Gray said for road safety to be significantly improved people needed to believe they would be caught and convicted. “But people clearly do not believe that is the case,” she said.

Detections

Assistant Garda commissioner Paula Hilman said “these ongoing detections demonstrate that some road-users continue to ignore road safety advice, putting themselves and other road-users at risk”.

She appealed to all road-users “to modify their behaviour, to heed road safety advice in order to reduce collisions, avoid unnecessary deaths and to ensure that our roads are safer in 2022”.

“Gardaí undertook 15,759 breath tests at 5,681 checkpoints over the Christmas period. We are playing our part, and ask all road-users to play theirs,” she said.

Sam Waide, chief executive of the Road Safety Authority, said it was “ astonishing” to see the numbers of those who persist in drink and drug driving.

He also said it was “ alarming to think that 28 per cent of all drivers and passengers killed in 2021 in Ireland were not wearing a seatbelt”.