The Irish Medical Organisation has welcomed the implementation of new legislation which will enable Gardaí to test drivers for the presence of alcohol at the scene of road traffic collisions.
The legislation which comes into effect today (June 1st 2011) and gives Gardaí the powers to conduct mandatory testing of drivers for alcohol at the scene of a crash where someone has been injured, or a driver who has been injured and referred to hospital.
Dr. Declan Bedford, IMO Public Health Specialist who called for the immediate implementation of the legislation at the IMO annual conference in April said; "The implementation of this legislation will save lives and reduce the number of serious injuries and disabilities as a result of road crashes. This will build on the success of random breath testing which was introduced in 2006. Since 2006 the number of deaths on our roads has fallen from 397 in 2005 to 212 last year. Great credit for this is due to the Road Safety Authority, An Garda Síochána and all road users."
While welcoming the decision to implement the new legislation and congratulating the Minister for Transport for having it signed into law Dr. Bedford said; “We need to continue on the progress to date on this issue and implement further legislation which will reduce drink driving limits from 80mg/100ml to 50mg/100 for qualified drivers and 20mg/100 ml for learner, novice and professional drivers.”
Dr. Bedford also took the opportunity to call on all motorists to slow down and not take risks over the coming bank holiday weekend. He said; “Statistics show that traffic accidents are caused by human error, speed, drink driving, use of mobile phones, and fatigue. All too often doctors see first hand the results of carnage on our roads. We see families, friends and relatives whose lives are changed in a matter of minutes due to fatalities, serious injuries and in some cases permanent paralysis.”
Dr Bedford went on to say that the Department of Transport has led in the implementation of evidence based strategies to tackle the harm caused by alcohol. Alcohol causes a lot of harm across the whole of Irish society and other departments also need to follow suit and introduce legislation for example in respect of the sale of alcohol in supermarkets and in the area of advertising and promotion of alcohol".
The Irish Medical Organisation which represents over 6,500 Consultants, General Practitioners, Public Health Doctors and Non Consultant Hospital Doctor has been campaigning on Road Safety for many years. In recognition of its ongoing commitment to Road Safety in Ireland the IMO received an award from the European Road Safety Charter in February 2011.
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