AN average of four drivers a week are being detected for drink or drug driving in Mayo, according to the Chief Superintendent for the Mayo Garda Division.
Chief Supt Pat Diskin informed members of the Mayo County Council Joint Policing Committee that it was unfortunate that people were still not getting the message not to drink and drive.
“We detected 195 people [so far this year for drink driving], down 20 on this time last year, but on the other hand drug driving increased. We had 14 this year. In total, it is 209 detections [between drink and drugs], which is about four per week. It goes to show that unfortunately we are still having difficulty with people drinking and driving,” he said.
Meanwhile, Supt Joe McKenna informed the members that gardaí test drivers for drugs by using a mouth swab, and that a road-side machine can be used to test for the presence of drugs. He said that drivers can also be asked to perform an impairment test, and a sample of blood or urine can also be taken to test for the presence of drugs.
Responding to a question from Cllr Al McDonnell about prescription drugs, Supt McKenna said: “A lot of people are on prescription drugs, and it is one of the questions gardaí would ask drivers. The test itself categorises the drugs between cannabis, cocaine, Benzodiazepines … they are illegal, and you have committed an offence. If you are on a regular prescription drug, as long as you are not impaired from driving, that is okay. We all know your pharmacist will warn you not to drive on certain medication, and there is an element of common-sense about it.”
Independent councillor Gerry Ginty said there should be more campaigns to let people know about the dangers of driving under the influence of drugs and warning drivers that they can be caught for it.
“There are a lot of warnings out there that if you drink don’t drive. The message also needs to go out that if you take drugs, which you shouldn’t take in the first place, but if you do you shouldn’t be driving. People would not be as aware that you can get caught for it,” he said.
To date there have been nine fatalities on the county’s roads in 2018 and Road Safety Officer, Noel Gibbons said drink driving remains a big issue.
“We have discussed alcohol and drugs in great depth, and one of the campaigns we are promoting over Christmas is one of the best gifts you can give someone is a lift home. Rather than buy a bottle of wine or whiskey, offer to give someone a lift to bring them home safely. Unfortunately alcohol and drugs remain a big contributory factor to road deaths … We need to make the roads safer for everyone,” he said.