The Road Safety Authority (RSA) has welcomed the publication of the Crowe Horwath report into matters relating to Mandatory Impairment Testing and the issue of summonses by An Garda Síochána.
In its submission to the authors of the report the RSA advised that the over reporting of breath tests and the low detections of intoxicated drivers may have determined or influenced the allocation of Garda resourcing away from roads policing. The RSA is concerned this could have negatively impacted on the numbers of people killed and seriously injured on Irish roads. This is the singular and most important fact that must not be lost in the analysis of this report
The percentage of positive breath tests reported by An Garda Síochána is in stark contrast to recent research conducted by the RSA which showed that 29% of drivers involved in fatal collisions had alcohol in their systems. The RSA is of the view therefore that the recommendation by Crowe Horwath that a minimum of 20% of motorists be breath tested annually must be immediately implemented.
The RSA also wants more to be done to address the core issue of reduced road policing resources and enforcement. Of serious concern is the fact that the commitment in the Garda Policing Plan 2017 to “Incrementally increasing resources to Roads Policing Units by 10% across all regions by end Q4 of 2017…” has not been delivered.
The RSA is disappointed with the lack of understanding by many Gardaí of the direct link of effective visible random breath testing and improvements in road safety outcomes and believe this has impacted on the resourcing of the Traffic Corps over recent years. The RSA believes that the establishment of the new Roads Policing Units should incorporate a separate command structure reporting to Assistant Commissioner, Roads Policing, a unit that is staffed by personnel dedicated to road traffic and road safety enforcement, who are trained and regularly upskilled on complex road traffic legislation, and the use of alcohol and drug screening devices.
The lack of investment in An Garda Síochána over the last 10 years must be addressed urgently. A robust mechanism, independently verified, to audit all road safety activity of the Gardaí, and not just the recording of breath tests administered, must also be put in place.