New data from An Garda Síochána, revealed at the Road Safety Authority (RSA) annual international road safety conference, indicates that between January and April this year, there has been an increase of 18% in the number of arrests for driving under the influence (DUI), compared with the same period in 2016.

Figures also show that April 2017 saw more arrests for drink driving than in any single month in the past five years.

The RSA’s International Road Safety Conference features presentations from leading international experts on road safety and enforcement from Australia, USA, Sweden, Spain, Brussels, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Speaking ahead of the RSA’s International Conference on alcohol and road safety, Shane Ross, Minister for Transport Tourism and Sport, said: “Drink-driving in this country remains a significant problem. That is why I brought the Road Traffic (Fixed Penalty-Drink Driving) Bill 2017 before the Oireachtas, which proposes that anyone detected driving over the legal limit will receive a mandatory disqualification from driving. This is essential legislation, designed to save lives. This Bill is based on scientific research, addressing drink driving at lower limits.

“I look forward to hearing the insights of the international speakers on how they have sought to tackle the scourge of drink driving in their jurisdictions, in particular the penalties they have in place, which I understand in Sweden and Queensland are far stricter than anything we have in place or are proposing under my new Bill.”

Liz O’Donnell, Chairperson, RSA, was also set to address the conference. Speaking in advance, she said: “Road collision data and the latest arrest statistics confirm that drink driving is still a problem in Ireland. Consuming any alcohol impairs driving and increases the risk of a collision. Saving lives on Irish roads requires a zero-tolerance attitude to drink-driving. That is why the RSA supports the move to introduce an automatic disqualification for drivers found to be over the legal alcohol limit.”

Provisional research from the RSA to be unveiled at the conference will show that alcohol was present in 30% of road traffic collision fatalities in 2013 and 2014.

Other findings include:

  • 57% of all fatalities with a positive toxicology for alcohol took place 8pm-4am.
  • Alcohol consumption in conjunction with drug use is prevalent in road traffic crashes with 44% of fatalities found to have alcohol plus at least one other drug present.
  • 65% of fatalities with a positive toxicology for alcohol took place on Saturday (17%), Sunday (23%) and Monday (24%).
  • 33% of fatalities with a positive toxicology for alcohol took place during the summer months – June (13%), July (10%) & August (10%).
  • A total of 63 people have died on the roads to date in 2016, this is a reduction of 13 up to the same period last year.