Drink driving detection has plummeted in the last 10 years – Peadar Tóibín TD
Sinn Féin’s Peadar Tóibín TD has revealed figures released to him by the Courts Service of Ireland showing a shocking plunge in drink driving convictions over the past ten years.
Deputy Tóibín said:
“There has been a very worrisome increase in the number of road deaths since 2012 to date. Every live that is lost is a catastrophe for the family in question. Alcohol is a factor in 38% of road collisions.
"Analysis carried out by the Road Safety Authority on collisions between 2008 and 2012 showed that alcohol was a contributory factor in 330 collisions, claiming the lives of 366 people. A further 69 people were seriously injured.
“Detection of drink driving is the singularly most important tool in the fight against drink driving. It is by far the largest deterrent. It directly saves lives.
"According to the results of the Parliamentary Question that I submitted there has been a massive collapse in drink driving convictions in the state from 2007 until 2015. The figures fall from 11,062 in 2007 to 2,442 in 2015. That's just under an 80% fall.
“Last year, against the trend, there was a marginal increase in the number of people convicted for drink driving. Either drink driving is disappearing from Ireland or its detection is.
“While at the same time the number of Gardaí within the Traffic Corps has crashed. In 2009 there were 1,200 Garda officers in the Traffic Corps. By 2016 this had fallen to less than 681 officers.
"I believe that there is a clear correlation between the collapse in drink driving conviction rates and the collapse in the strength of the Traffic Corps.
“In my view as a result driver behaviour has changed significantly. Drink driving is not the stigma it was 10 years ago. It’s not surprising that the great progress that had been achieved on the roads up until 2012 has been reversed and that road fatalities are on the increase.
"In this situation it’s clear that austerity has cost lives.
“It’s important to look at the regional variability of these figures. According to the RSA the counties where alcohol featured most as a contributory factor in collisions were counties Cork (10.6%), Galway (9.7%), Dublin (7.9%) and Donegal (7.6%).
"However, three of these four counties listed here are in the bottom half of the conviction rate list. Indeed Donegal is the county in which you are least likely to be convicted for drink driving. Resources need to be located to where the problem exists.”