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Blood alcohol legislation urgently required – Doherty

13 March, 2008

Sinn Féin Transport Spokesperson Pearse Doherty has said the Government delay in bringing forward legislation to reduce the blood alcohol limit for drivers is costing lives. Speaking today Senator Doherty also called on the Government to introduce roadside drug testing for drivers.

The Donegal Senator said, "As we approach another bank holiday weekend added resources are again being pumped into the Garda Traffic Corps in an attempt to save lives on the road. While this is welcome and should save lives it is worth noting that bank holiday weekends are not the only time when lives are lost on our roads.

"Lives are lost almost on a daily basis on our roads. It is clear that extra resources are required so they should be provided at all times rather than just at bank holiday weekends.

"Sinn Féin supports a zero alcohol limit for drivers in order to reduce the risk of deaths or accidents on our roads. A zero limit policy would eliminate the current confusion around how much one can drink before being over the limit.

"However, the Government delay in producing legislation to reduce the blood alcohol limit is costing lives. The reality is that under current legislation people can go to the pub this weekend, have a drink and then legally get behind the wheel of a car. This needs to be dealt with now. It is too serious a matter to be put on the long finger.

"However, while advocating a zero limit policy for drivers I am very conscious of the effect this has on rural Ireland where public transport infrastructure is sparse. The Government should not allow a situation to develop where rural residents are isolated because they cannot drive to the local pub. With the introduction of a zero alcohol limit for drivers must be a commitment from Government to once and for all adequately invest in rural transport infrastructure.

"Also of major concern is the lack of movement from the Government to clamp down on drug driving. There is currently no adequate method for testing for drugs on the roadside even though cocaine has now taken a foothold in every town in the state. Many countries have mandatory roadside drug tests. This is urgently required here and needs to be prioritised now. Roadside drug testing must introduced as a matter of urgency." ENDS

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