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Zero alcohol and drug driving limit required - Boylan

1 August, 2007

Vice Chairperson of the Assembly's Road Safety Committee Sinn Féin MLA Cathal Boylan speaking today (Wednesday) from Dublin where he was launching his Party's All Ireland Road Safety Policy, has called for a zero alcohol and drug driving limit throughout the island.

Boylan said, "Sinn Féin is urging Government agencies in both jurisdictions to adopt a collective and cohesive road safety policy. It is vital that there is an all-Ireland response to the crisis on our roads. A zero alcohol and drug limit throughout the Island would eliminate both the risk and the public confusion caused by the current incompatible systems in operation on either side of the border.

"Motor vehicles become lethal weapons if operated under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Drink driving is the main contributing factor to single vehicle collisions and is a factor in more than one third of all fatal crashes. Drug driving is also on the increase.

"We need preventative education and good strong laws to challenge the widespread culture of impaired driving, but these are not enough. It must also become socially unacceptable to drive while impaired. We therefore must develop a widespread 'counter-culture' of designated (intoxicant-free) driving. Young people in particular have a leadership role to play in this regard, however older people also have the responsibility to lead by example.

"Therefore to tackle impaired driving on our roads Sinn Féin is proposing:

o A total ban on intoxicating substance intake and driving, ie a zero alcohol and drug limit, in order to eliminate both risk and public confusion.

o Adequate resources for the random breath testing regime (see also proposals on oversight of these powers in subsection below).

o Training for police services in detecting and proving drug-impaired driving. Complementary training in dealing appropriately with drivers with mental health difficulties using controlled prescription medication but who are fully entitled to drive.

o Introduce regular assessment of those on controlled prescription medication for fitness to drive.

o Provide more night-time public transport options, especially in rural areas, to reduce the risk of people driving while impaired.

o A widespread public education campaign to accurately inform drivers of the effects of alcohol and how long it takes before they can safely drive a vehicle after consumption, and to promote a culture of intoxicant-free driving. This campaign should be implemented in schools as well as in the general community, in the media and also wherever alcohol is sold." ENDS

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