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Home > Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 45 - Drug and alcohol testing [23963/17] [Driving].

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 45 - Drug and alcohol testing [23963/17] [Driving]. (23 May 2017)

External website: https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/question/2017...


45. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the number of gardaí in each of the Cork divisions that have been trained and are in a position to test for drug driving; the number of tests that have been carried out in each Cork division; and the number of positive results that have been identified. [23963/17]

 

Deputy Aindrias Moynihan The priority here is that the Garda would have all the resources it needs, including training and equipment, to do the job to the best of its ability and that it would be in a position to do everything it can to make our roads safer. At more than 13,000 km and covering one seventh of the area of the Republic, Cork has the largest road network in the country. The Medical Bureau of Road Safety, MBRS, tells us that one in ten drivers killed in road accidents failed toxicology tests. We are trying to establish if the gardaí in Cork are in a position to test for drug driving effectively.

 

Deputy Frances Fitzgerald: I have requested the specific information from the Garda authorities. As soon as I have it, I will make it available to the Deputy.

 

 While An Garda Síochána has been testing Irish drivers for drugs with the assistance of the Medical Bureau of Road Safety since 1999, my colleague, the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Shane Ross, commenced the drug driving provisions on 12 April. Therefore, this is a very new initiative. One of the key measures in the legislation provides for preliminary drug testing, which will enable the Garda to test motorists at the roadside. The new devices will be available in Garda stations. The MBRS found, for example, that 24% of the 3,020 specimens of blood and urine that it received in 2016 confirmed positive for drugs other than alcohol. This shows us why it is so important to have introduced this new legislation. It is interesting to note that 91% of the specimens were those of male drivers, most of whom were in the 17 to 44 age group. Cannabis, followed by benzodiazepines, was the most prevalent drug detected.

 

 I believe that the measures the Deputy has asked me about will make a positive difference. I attended the ministerial committee on road safety on Monday. Professor Cusack also attended. He is now receiving the various specimens that are being taken and analysing them. This process is just beginning and under way. Representatives of the Garda were also in attendance and assured us that gardaí have been trained. As I stated, the samples are coming through.

 

 I will have to get the detail of who has been trained in Cork for the Deputy. It is estimated that drug driving is a factor in approximately one in ten fatal crashes. Drug driving not only puts the driver at risk but also passengers and others who share the roads. The road safety figures have improved in the recent weeks and month and we have seen a welcome reduction in the number of fatalities and injuries this year so far.

 

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