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Road safety boss targets drink-drivers

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Liz O'Donnell

Liz O'Donnell

Collins Dublin, Gareth Chaney

Liz O'Donnell

The new chairperson of the Road Safety Authority (RSA) has issued a strong warning to those who continue to drive while under the influence of alcohol, saying that it is "completely reckless".

Liz O'Donnell's message comes in the run-up to World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims to remember those who have been affected by vehicle accidents.

The former junior minister said that although mandatory roadside alcohol testing had reduced the numbers who drink and drive, the notion of having a few pints on board while driving is "totally unacceptable".

"If you see someone who has had a few pints getting into the driver's seat of a car, it is your duty to say it to them," she said.

Last week alone, 188 people were arrested under suspicion of drink-driving, according to the RSA.

Ms O'Donnell also paid tribute to her predecessor, Gay Byrne, for his work during his tenure as RSA chairman.

skills

"I am happy to pay tribute to Gay Byrne, and wanted to put on the record the fantastic work he did," she said.

"He used all of the clout, his broadcasting skills and integrity to really bring a new awareness to road safety and the fatalities that each tragedy has."

Last year, road deaths increased on the previous year for the first time since 2005, and Ms O'Donnell believes that people have to be reminded of the consequences of violating road traffic laws.

"The fact that the fatality figures went down by so much and have gone back up show that we have to keep hammering home the message to people," she said.

Also speaking in the lead-up to Sunday's remembrance ceremony was Acting Garda Commissioner Noreen O'Sullivan.

"Road traffic enforcement, but most importantly road traffic behaviour, is a major priority for all members of An Garda Siochana, not just traffic wardens but all members," she said.

This year is on course to surpass last year's number of people killed on the roads, with 166 deaths so far in 2014 compared with 163 in the same period last year. However, in the previous six years deaths related to road collisions had more than halved.

tribute

Dublin Fire Brigade's Chief Fire Officer Pat Fleming highlighted the importance of the remembrance event. As well as paying tribute to the victims of road accidents, it also makes others aware of the consequences, he said.

"While the families will never forget, it's important that the public don't either, and it can make people aware that road accidents can affect anyone," said Mr Fleming.

hnews@herald.ie


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