St Patrick’s Bank Holiday road safety appeal with high number of road deaths in 2024


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The Road Safety Authority (RSA) and An Garda Síochána are appealing to the public to use the roads with care over the St Patrick’s Bank Holiday weekend. This appeal comes against the backdrop of high numbers of road fatalities in 2024.

Provisional analysis from the RSA shows that 42 lives have been lost on Irish roads to date this year, three (3) more than on this date last year (as of 14 March 2024).

The RSA and An Garda Síochána are reminding all road users to never drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Ahead of the national holiday, drivers and all other road users are being reminded to plan ahead and organise a safe way home when celebrating over the coming days.

This means leaving the car and the keys at home, arranging a lift, agreeing a designated driver, booking a taxi, or taking public transport. Walking home or cycling under the influence of alcohol or drugs can also put you and other road users at risk.

Gardai statistics show that:

  • During 2023 one driver was arrested every hour on suspicion of driving under the influence of an intoxicant – alcohol or drugs.
  • Over St. Patricks Weekend 2023, 196 drivers were arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of an intoxicant – 136 alcohol and 60 drugs.
  • Drug driving accounted for over 35% of all driving while intoxicated detections in 2023.
  • Cannabis and cocaine remain the main drugs identified.
  • To date in 2024 up to the 29 February, over 1,300 drivers have been arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of an intoxicant – alcohol or drugs.

The appeal comes as the RSA’s Driver Attitudes & Behaviour Survey 2023 found that one in four (26%) motorists believe that driving short distances after having a drink is acceptable, and one in ten report driving after drinking alcohol in the last 12 months.

The survey also reveals that nearly a quarter (23%) of drivers have admitted there were times where they may have been over the limit when driving on the morning after a night out.

To coincide with this Bank Holiday appeal, the RSA’s ‘SAY IT’ campaign will continue to run over the Bank Holiday weekend, with a specific focus on alcohol. The ‘SAY IT’ campaign encourages people to speak up when they see unsafe behaviours by family or friends on the roads.

Mr. Jack Chambers, Minister of State at the Department of Transport, said: “I am deeply concerned by the findings that people have admitted to driving while they may have been over the limit after a night out. This bank holiday weekend I am urging motorists to make responsible choices before getting behind the wheel after celebrating St Patrick’s Day. With the holiday falling on a Sunday, people who are away for the weekend may be travelling back on the Monday. We all need to keep our roads safe, and I am also appealing to people not to get behind the wheel if they have been celebrating heavily the night before.”

Sarah O’Connor, Director of Partnerships and External Affairs with the RSA, said: “We know that fatal road traffic collisions are more likely to occur over the weekend and late at night/in the early hours of the morning. If any of us gets behind the wheel of a car after drinking alcohol or using drugs this weekend, we have to realise that our decision could lead to some very serious consequences. Plan a safe way home and stick to it – and speak up if you see someone about to drive or walk home when intoxicated. Don’t just think it, say it.”

 An Garda Síochána Assistant Commissioner Roads Policing and Community Engagement, Paula Hilman said: “Throughout this St. Patrick’s Bank Holiday Weekend, an extensive Garda Roads Policing Operation will be in place nationwide. Enforcing road traffic laws is a core element of road safety, and Gardaí work all year round to detect road traffic offences which are known to increase the risk of death or serious injury on our roads. The reality is that this risk further increases during bank holiday weekends. We all have a personal responsibility to prevent road fatalities and serious injury road traffic collisions, and we must work together. An Garda Síochána are urging people to never, ever get behind the wheel of a car while under the influence of an intoxicant be that alcohol or drugs. Please slow down and drive at an appropriate speed, always wear your seatbelt and do not allow yourself to be distracted by a phone while driving.

“There are consequences to these actions and poor driver behaviour – some more lasting than others. You could lose your licence and face significant financial penalty, but far worse is the possibility of seriously injuring or killing someone else on the road. We appeal to everyone to look out for one another on the roads this St. Patrick’s weekend.”

This St Patrick’s Bank Holiday Weekend drivers are also being reminded that the RSA and participating Applegreen service stations are providing free cups of coffee to motorists to combat driver fatigue. The offer is available from 2-8pm on Friday 15 March and on Monday 18 March – just mention RSA at the Applegreen till when you’re getting your coffee.