"Killer behaviour": Driving under influence of drugs now almost as common as drink-driving in Ireland

"Killer behaviour": Driving under influence of drugs now almost as common as drink-driving in Ireland

AN ANNUAL lecture by Ireland's Road Safety Authority (RSA) has revealed some worrying figures about Irish drivers.

In statistics gathered by the RSA along with the Health Research Board (HRB) and the Medical Bureau of Road Safety (MBRS) it was found that between 2013 - 2016, in 310 drivers and motorcyclists killed on Irish roads, that:

  • 11% of people tested positive for benzodiazepine
  • 8% of people testedf positive for cocaine
  • 7% tested positive for cannabis

The figures are a reminder of Ireland's drug-driving problem, an issue which has been highlighted since the introduction of roadside drug testing in 2017.

The collaborative research found that cannabis is by far the most common drug detected in a positive drug test-- 68% of drivers who tested positive for drugs were found to have cannabis in their system. The second-most common drug, cocaine, was found in 37% of positive results.

The growing figures means that a driver being tested positive for cannabis is now almost as common as a driver being under the influence of alcohol.

Speaking at the lecture, Director of MBRS Professor Denis Cusack also warned of the dangers of prescription pills as some can cause drowsiness an impede driving capabilities.

He urged anyone with medical conditions to speak to their GP or Pharmacist if their prescription medication causes impairment.

Minister for Transport Shane Ross said of the worrying drug-driving statistics:

“Driving under the influence of drugs has been a statutory offence since 1961 but it wasn’t until 2017, with the introduction of Preliminary Drug Testing, that we had a drug testing device capable of testing for the presence of drugs in drivers at the roadside and in the Garda station.

“It’s clear that its introduction has resulted in an increase in drug driving detections, but the results presented today show that a continued enforcement and education effort is required to tackle this killer behaviour.”