Alcohol – tackling the crisis on our roads

The Road Safety Authority (RSA) hosted its 2017 International Road Safety Conference in Dublin Castle on Thursday 1st June. The theme of the conference was Alcohol – tackling the crisis on our roads. Over 200 road safety stakeholders were in attendance on the day.

On the day delegates were addressed by Minister for Transport Tourism and Sport Shane Ross TD and Ms Liz O’ Donnell, Chairperson of the Road Safety Authority and featured presentations from leading international and national experts on road safety from Australia, USA, Sweden, Spain, Brussels, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland:

  • Mrs Gillian Treacy, Mother of Ciarán Treacy, Crashed Lives Campaign
  • Ms Velma Burns, Research Manager, Road Safety Authority
  • Professor Denis Cusack, Director, Medical Bureau of Road Safety and Head, Forensic & Legal Medicine, University College Dublin 
  • Dr Jean T. Shope, MSPH, PhD, Research Professor Emerita, University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute and School of Public Health 
  • Dr Barry Watson, Adjunct Professor, Centre for Accident Research & Road Safety – Qld (CARRS-Q), Queensland University of Technology (QUT)
  •  Mr Antonio Avenoso, Director, European Transport Safety Council
  •  Mr Pär-Ola Skarviken, Qualified Investigator, Swedish Transport Agency 
  • Mr Leandro Fuentes Martín, Major of the Guardia Civil (Spain), Traffic Police Force Headquarters, Operations Directorate 
  • Mr John Brogan, Department of Infrastructure, Northern Ireland 
  • Mr Martin Mayock, Department of Infrastructure, Northern Ireland 
  • Superintendent Con O’Donohue, Garda National Roads Policing Bureau, An Garda Síochána 
  • Professor Desmond O’ Neill, Director, National Office for Traffic Medicine, Royal College of Physicians of Ireland

Provisional research from the RSA unveiled at the conference informed that alcohol was present in 30% of road traffic collision fatalities in 2013 and 2014. The National Drug-related Deaths Index coroner’s data* was collected by the Health Research Board for this period. The data also shows that 55% of all fatalities with a positive toxicology for alcohol were male driver/motorcyclist deaths.

Findings of the data include: 

  • 33% of all fatalities with a positive toxicology for alcohol took place in Galway (10%), Cork (11%) and Dublin (12%). 
  • 57% of all fatalities with a positive toxicology for alcohol took place 8pm-4am. 
  • Alcohol consumption in conjunction with drug use is prevalent in road traffic crashes with 44% of fatalities found to have alcohol plus at least one other drug present.
  • 65% of fatalities with a positive toxicology for alcohol took place on Saturday (17%), Sunday (23%) & Monday (24%). 
  • 33% of fatalities with a positive toxicology for alcohol took place during the summer months - June (13%), July (10%) & August (10%).

 * The National Drug-Related Deaths Index (NDRDI) is an epidemiological database, managed by the Health Research Board (HRB). This database records all deaths due to drug and alcohol poisoning, and all deaths among drug users and those who are alcohol dependent.

During 2013-2014, 381 road users died in road traffic collisions (RTCs) in the Republic of Ireland. The 2013-2014 NDRDI coroner’s data captures 269 of these fatalities (71%).