Road fatalities in Cork have already surpassed 2018 numbers

Road fatalities in Cork have already surpassed 2018 numbers
Gardaí from Cork's roads policing unit carrying out a roadside checkpoint. Picture Dan Linehan

GARDAI are warning road users to help prevent road deaths in Cork this Christmas as the number of fatalities so far this year is one up on last year.

There have been 13 people killed in accidents on Cork's roads so far this year, compared with 12 in the same period last year.

Superintendent Pat Lehane of the Roads Policing Unit said three people were killed in Cork last December. He is urging the public to take care to help prevent road deaths this month.

Two of the three people killed last December were pedestrians.

Supt Lehane said: "Pedestrians and cyclists are among the most vulnerable on the road. We are appealing to them to take care on the roads, with long hours of darkness and wet and greasy roads at this time of the year. Wear fluorescent clothing, and cycle or walk on the correct side of the road."

He added: "Drivers should all be conscious of vulnerable road users too."

He advised drivers to be also aware of the danger of driver fatigue, continuing: "If drivers feel tired, stop the car in a safe place and take a sleep for 15 or 20 minutes. Get coffee or tea too. Do not fight sleep at the wheel."

He said gardaí are focussing particularly on drink and drug driving, speeding, seat belt use, and use of handheld mobile phones in their road safety campaign during the festive period.

There has been a 5% increase in arrests for drink and drug driving this year, up to 812 to date this year from 773 in the same period last year.

Since 2017, gardaí have been able to conduct roadside testing for drug driving. The mandatory intoxicant checkpoints now see drivers being tested for both alcohol and drugs.

The device used in drug testing can detect the presence of cannabis, cocaine, opiates and benzodiazepines in a saliva sample.

Since the introduction of the measures over two years ago, more gardaí have been trained in using the device and more of the devices, called (Draeger DrugTest 5000) have also been rolled out.

In May, the Medical Bureau of Road Safety outlined that cannabis is the main drug of choice for drivers who flout drug driving laws.

Anyone convicted of drug driving can face a disqualification of up to four years if their driving has been impaired by drugs including cannabis, cocaine, heroin and prescription drugs. Penalties also include a fine of up to €5,000 and up to six months in prison.

However, disqualification of a year can also be imposed for driving over the limit for cannabis, cocaine or heroin.

It is also an offence to refuse to give a saliva sample. The penalty for this is a fine of up to €5,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or both.

If a saliva test proves positive for the presence of drugs, a driver is then arrested and taken to a garda station for a blood test.

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