Home > Medical Bureau of Road Safety annual report 2020.

Medical Bureau of Road Safety. (2022) Medical Bureau of Road Safety annual report 2020. Dublin: Medical Bureau of Road Safety.

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The annual report for 2020 presents a summary of the Medical Bureau of Road Safety’s activities and performance. It also provides relevant and important information, figures and data on driving under the influence of intoxicants and on the Bureau’s continuing role in the current Road Safety Strategy 2013-2020.

  • Specimens received in the laboratory for analysis p.8
  • Alcohol programme: blood and urine p.14
  • Alcohol programme: breath p.16
  • Toxicology programme p.20

The number of preliminary drug testing devices supplied to the Gardaí for roadside use was increased by releasing a further 43 devices from Garda stations for roadside use also following a strategic review with an Garda Síochána in August 2020. At the end of 2020 there were 130 devices available for roadside drug testing compared with 75 at the end of 2019, with a 61% increase in the number of PDT tests over 2019. Evidential alcohol breath testing instruments were available in 86 Garda stations nationwide. Although some on-site testing of these instruments was suspended in April due to travel restrictions, almost all 86 were kept in service continuously with prudent rescheduling of station visits by Bureau scientists.

The number of blood and urine specimens received for alcohol analysis increased by 23% over 2019 and for drug toxicology analysis the number increased by 39%. Evidential breath testing numbers decreased by 39% over 2019 figures as Gardaí reduced this type of testing and increased roadside drug testing and Garda station samples for drugs analysis. The number of blood and urine testing kits issued by the Bureau increased from 6,300 in 2019 to 7,900 in 2020.

This report provides some detailed epidemiological data such as the mean blood, urine and breath alcohol levels detected (148mg/100ml, 199 mg/100ml and 51µg/100ml respectively) and the percentage of drivers with significant alcohol levels (of the alcohol positive specimens, 75% of blood results were greater than 100mg/100 ml; 70% of urine results were greater than 135 mg/100ml; and 64% of breath results over 36µg/100ml). Of the 4,489 blood and urine specimens tested for drugs (an increase of 39%), 3,650 (81% of toxicology specimens and 61% of all specimens received) were positive for at least one drug class on preliminary testing leading to the 49% overall increase in drug confirmed results. Additional information on drugs and driving was added to the Bureau’s website during 2020.

Of the 2,151 positive cases the prevalence of drugs detected by the DT5000 was as follows: 67% were positive for cannabis (66% 2019, 72% 2018, 64% 2017), 46% were positive for cocaine (43% 2019, 41% 2018, 35% 2017), 8% were positive for opiates (8% 2019, 8% 2018, 8% 2017) and 5% were positive for benzodiazepines (4% 2019, 7% 2018, 5% 2017). As in previous years the overwhelming detection is for illicit drugs rather than opiates and benzodiazepines which can be legitimately purchased and/ or prescribed but can also be misused. The steady year on year increase in the number of detections for cocaine when using the DT5000 is notable and is clearly out of step with the trends for the other drugs.

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