MOTORISTS in West Cork cannot have helped but notice the increased number of Garda checkpoints on our roads in recent weeks at all hours of the day and night, with many stories emerging of drivers being given mandatory breath tests on their way to work in the morning, even on midweek days. Obviously, there is an element of making up for the embarrassment the force suffered when it emerged that the number of breath tests carried out by members over a five-year period had been overstated by almost a million â and we still haven't received a plausible explanation, but the report on it is due this month.
All visible policing is welcome, especially on our roads, as too many drivers take crazy risks, putting their own lives and those of others in grave and, nearly always, unnecessary danger. Speed is a huge factor in causing accidents, especially when exacerbated by alcohol consumption.Â
At the moment, a driver detected with between 51 and 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood in his/her system is given penalty points rather than a ban for a first offence. Transport Minister Shane Ross wants to replace this penalty with a mandatory driving ban so that all motorists convicted of being over the limit will face a period of time off the road, but his proposed legislation to do this, following intense lobbying of rural TDs in particular by powerful vintners and drinks industry interests, could well â shamefully âbe shot down.
As always, in advance of the busiest holiday weekend of the year, An Garda SÃochÃ¡na has issued an appeal to motorists to be extra-careful on the roads as the summer months are a high-risk period with more people travelling around, including visitors to Ireland who are in unfamiliar surroundings. The schools are off and more children are out on the roads and there are more agricultural vehicles, cyclists and motorcycles out there too, increasing the risks for all road users. Â
Over the past five years, 73 people have died as a result of traffic collisions on our roads during the month of August. To date this year, fatalities are down roughly 10% on last year, but it is still almost 90 deaths too many.
A bit more patience and consideration by road users would go a long way towards making this a happier holiday weekend for all.