The Meath Garda Division launched its Christmas road safety campaign at the weekend focusing on drink driving with motorists warned to expect extra checkpoints across the county in the run up to and over the festive season.
Inspector Peter Gilsenan who heads up the County's Roads Policing Unit said extra Gardai would be out and additional patrols and checkpoints will be carried out “concentrating on drink driving and getting people home safely”.
Each area will also be carrying out its own checkpoints in conjunction with the Roads Policing Unit to ensure the widest spread of checkpoints across the county.
There will be a strong emphasis on drink-driving and increased mandatory intoxicant testing (MIT) checkpoints testing for drugs and alcohol, including in the mornings.
“We are advising people to plan their nights out. Know how you are getting home. If you are going to have a drink, arrange a different way of getting home,” said Inspector Gilsenan (pictured bottom right).
Even just one drink could put you over the limit, depending on the certain factors, and Inspector Gilsenan is warning people not to take that risk. It is estimated that alcohol is a factor in about a third of accidents.
“Expect to see us at any time. We have a 24-7 schedule and there will be extra checkpoints and extra resources in the run up to Christmas.”
Insp Gilsenan is also reminding people to be cognisant of the weather conditions.
“The weather has been so good for so long and last week it deteriorated so we are asking people to be mindful of driving conditions. There is more rain, the evenings are darker. Visibility isn't as good, traction on the roads is not as good so we are asking people to take these factors into account and reduce their speed.”
As well as drink driving, the Roads Policing Unit will also continue to focus on the other three ‘life-saver offence’ areas of speeding, non-wearing of seat belts and the use of mobile phones while driving.
Meanwhile, An Garda Síochána and The Road Safety Authority (RSA) have appealed to all road users to act responsibly and safely on the roads throughout the Christmas and New Year period with drivers being especially warned of the dangers of driving the morning after a night of drinking when their driving could still be impaired by alcohol.
Analysis of Garda Síochána Investigation Files for fatal collisions, by the RSA, shows that 11 per cent of fatal collisions in which a driver had consumed alcohol, occurred between the hours of 7am and 11am.
Statistics indicate that six per cent of all Driving Under the Influence (DUI) arrests to date this year have taken place between 7am and 11am. The highest number of DUI arrests, at 104, occurred on a Sunday morning representing 26 per cent of all arrests between 7am and 11am. This is followed closely by Monday, at 90 arrests, representing 22 per cent of all morning after arrests.