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Drink Driving – The Facts

Shane Ross, T.D. | 05/04/2017 | The Irish Daily Mail | Everyone is entitled to their own o
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Drink Driving – The Facts

Shane Ross, T.D. | 05/04/2017 | The Irish Daily Mail |

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts. It’s a basic maxim which used to be self-evident but increasingly is challenged by those who are taking free speech to ludicrous levels. Increasingly, there are people who believe that if they want something to be true – regardless of the facts –all they have to do is repeat it endlessly, to anyone and everyone who will listen. The untruth then gathers legs, through social media and then mainstream reputable until voila!

The lie becomes an established fact.

Which is why today, when I appear before the Joint Oireachtas Committee for Transport, Tourism and Sport (for pre-legislative scrutiny of the Road Traffic (Fixed Penalty – Drink Driving) Bill 2017) there are many who insist that this measure will bring our current drink driving limits down to practically zero; that the odd glass of wine with lunch will now be outlawed and anyone taking cough medicine before getting into their car will be in danger of losing their driving licence.

Rubbish.

I’m blue in the face repeating myself here – but let me say once more for the hard of hearing that the new legislation will NOT change the current drink-driving blood-alcohol limit. Do I need to say that again? I think I do. There is NO CHANGE to current alcohol limits. Priests can still say Mass and use wine for the consecration, barmen can burp, Danny Healy-Rae can take his cough medicine and all of us can indulge in sherry trifle before getting behind the wheel of a car.

What IS being changed is the PENALTY for drivers detected drink driving with blood/alcohol concentration (BAC) of 51mg to 80mg. Back in the day when the BAC limit was reduced to 50mg the same people who are screaming that my new Bill will shut down rural Ireland, successfully lobbied the then government to exclude first time drink-driving offenders from receiving an automatic disqualification. Currently they can just pay a fine,  cop three penalty points and get back into their cars. It’s hypocrisy of the highest order, a signal that we’re not really that serious about drink driving. This Bill will ensure that all those detected driving over the legal limit will receive a mandatory disqualification from driving.

Changing this anomaly won’t, of course, end the horrific increase in road traffic fatalities we’ve witnessed over the past year. It’s not a magic wand. Drink driving is not the only problem in road safety.  There’s also speed, use of mobile phones, the reluctance to wear seat belts and, increasingly, driving under the influence of drugs. But alcohol is a factor in 38% of fatal crashes. For those who say these fatalities only occur when a skin-full of pints has been taken let me tell them what the facts say:

Between 2008 and 2012, 35 people were killed in crashes where drivers/motorcyclists had a recorded BAC level of between 21 and 80mg (and were deemed culpable due to alcohol being a contributory factor). This means that 7-8 people, on average, were killed per year over this period at lower alcohol levels. The culpable party was not a pedestrian or the passenger – as has been suggested by vested interest groups’ intent on muddying the statistics – but a driver with a BAC at the lower alcohol levels. There have been attempts to rubbish these statistics. So much so that the Road Safety Authority wrote to every public representative last week to put them straight.

Then one politician tried to create a link between the research behind my new Bill and the recent Garda breath-testing debacle. There is no connection between the data and research supporting this Bill and the current travails of the Gardai. This bill is not about the number of tests carried out, it’s about a change to the penalty and anyone trying to tell you any different is either too lazy to get their facts right – or have a vested interest in seeing people who drink and drive remain on the road.

I’ve been accused of damaging the social fabric of rural Ireland by insisting that this Bill will save lives. Yet eight out of ten alcohol related collisions occur in rural areas. For those who say this Bill is not needed, and that I have ‘no real grasp of the complexities of drink-driving’ I ask you?  Are you sincerely saying that the 7-8 people killed annually at the lower alcohol levels are collateral damage? Are their lives worth you having that extra pint and getting away with it? I dare you to say that to the families and friends of those who have lost their lives because of drink drivers who should have been off the road.

We need to seriously change our attitude to drink driving in this country. This Bill is a necessary step in doing that and I make no apologies for it.

Shane Ross T.D. 

 

Irish Daily Mail – Editorial 05/04/2017:
Ross is on the right road - Irish Daily Mail 05:04:17

Press Release: Road Traffic Bill 2016 passes

20/12/2016 | Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross TD today welcomed the passing of the Road Traffic Bill 2016 by the Oireachtas.

garda-checkpoint-390x285

The Bill contains a series of reforms dealing with drug driving; written off vehicles; mutual recognition of driver disqualifications between Ireland and the UK; uninsured drivers; and a new optional 20km/h speed limit in built-up areas among other measures.

The main provisions outlined in the Bill are detailed below:

Drug Driving

An Garda Síochána have been given new powers to test drivers for drugs at the roadside. Current provisions for Mandatory Alcohol Testing (MAT) checkpoints will be extended to provide for Mandatory Intoxication Testing (MIT) checkpoints testing drivers for both alcohol and drugs.

Under the new measures, Gardaí can ask drivers to undergo a preliminary drug test for cannabis, cocaine, a range of opiates (including heroin and morphine) and a range of benzodiazepines (including diazepam and flurazepam).

Speaking after the passing of the Bill Minister Ross said: “The new powers given to the Gardaí to test for drugs at the roadside will allow them to test for a wide range of drugs which could not be previously tested for. These represent 95% of all drugs found by the Medical Bureau of Road Safety in samples sent to it for confirmatory testing in 2015.”

Minister Ross added that; “drivers taking opiates and benzodiazepines prescribed by their doctors, [who are taking these prescribed drugs in accordance with their prescriptions, and are not impaired], have nothing to fear from the new measures. However, drivers abusing drugs such as cannabis, cocaine, benzodiazepines and opiate and driving while impaired will face a minimum disqualification of 4 years for their first offence and 6 years for their second and subsequent offence.”

A new offence of driving/being in charge of a mechanically propelled vehicle with the presence of three illicit drugs (Cannabis, Cocaine, and Heroin) has also been introduced. This means that for the first time drivers found above new legal thresholds for these drugs will commit an offence without An Garda Síochána having to prove impairment as is currently the case under existing legislation.

In seeking to address concerns of those prescribed Sativex (which contains cannabis) for illnesses such as multiple sclerosis, the Minister introduced in the Bill a medical exemption certificate for those prescribed with Sativex so that they do not fall under the new offence. This will ensure that they cannot be arrested for driving with cannabis in their system. He warned however, that if such drivers are impaired, they face the same sanctions as other drivers under existing drug driving legislation.

Written-off vehicles

The Minister said that; “In addition to current legislation on defective vehicles, the provisions in this Bill change the current arrangements between the insurance industry and my Department in relation to domestic write-offs from ‘voluntary’ to ‘statutory’. All insurers will be statutorily required to notify my Department of category A (irreparable and fit for scrap only) and category B (useful for viable spare parts only) write-offs so that these vehicles’ records can be locked down on the National Vehicle and Driver File and their circulation prevented.”

Mutual Recognition of Driving Disqualifications with the UK

The Bill will give effect to an agreement with the UK on mutual recognition of driver disqualifications which was signed in October 2015. If a driver is disqualified in the UK they are automatically barred from driving abroad, as they do not have a valid licence. However, if a driver from the UK is disqualified from driving in Ireland, the ban applies only in Ireland, the country that imposed it. The person could still drive in UK or anywhere else. The Minister commented that; “The provisions to back up the new agreement on mutual recognition of driver disqualification between ourselves and the UK will ensure that dangerous drivers who are a risk to the public are kept off the roads in both jurisdictions.”

20km/h Speed Limit

The Bill creates a new option for local authorities to impose a special speed limit of 20km/h in built-up areas. This will be in addition to the existing possible speed limits for built-up areas of 50km/h, 40km/h and 30km/h. The Minister added that; “the new speed limit option has been introduced following the Jake’s Legacy campaign. This was set up following the tragic death of six year old Jake Brennan who was killed in a road traffic incident in the housing estate where he lived. A new special speed limit of 20km/hour is now being made available for local authorities to impose where they see fit.”

Uninsured drivers

The increasing number of uninsured drivers is a huge concern and one of the issues identified to tackle this problem has been the Garda Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) system which is reliant on information provided by the insurance industry in respect of insured drivers. While this data set has proven to be unreliable to date, the Bill provides for detailed information that the insurance industry must now provide which will address this exact issue.

The Minister said that; “This is a very vital provision which will allow for the establishment of the Insured and Uninsured Database by Insurance Ireland and MIBI which will provide reliable data to An Garda Síochána to enable them to detect uninsured drivers and take them off our roads.”

Measures to ensure that drivers convicted in court have penalty points endorsed on their driver record

The Bill provides for a new requirement for the presiding judge to ask a driver convicted in court for a driving offence to produce their licence to the court. The court will then record the licence details, or the fact that it was not produced with failure to produce a licence an offence. Speaking today, the Minister said; “This new provision addresses a significant loophole in our legislation whereby some drivers were escaping having their penalty points recorded on their licences following conviction in court.”

In conclusion, the Minister commented that; “the Road Traffic Bill 2016 is a major step forward in many areas – the fight against drug driving in particular. Its other provisions will also improve our laws and help to keep all of our citizens safer on the roads, and to keep dangerous drivers off them. I look forward to the signing of this Bill into law, and I am looking forward to implementing its provisions as soon as possible.”

Unaccompanied learner drivers

We know, unfortunately, that there is a real and continuing problem with learner drivers who persist in driving unaccompanied on our roads despite this being illegal. The question of responsibility regarding owners who knowingly allow learners to drive their cars unaccompanied has been highlighted by the family of Geraldine and Louise Clancy, who were tragically killed in an incident for which an unaccompanied learner driver was found responsible. Speaking today, the Minister said “I was pleased to be able to work with my parliamentary colleagues on this extremely important Bill, and to include an amendment proposed by Deputy Imelda Munster TD, with regard to unaccompanied learner drivers. Learners who drive unaccompanied are committing an offence, and I think it is reasonable to see people who knowingly facilitate this offence as sharing a responsibility for it.”

The Minister added that he “will engage with the Office of the Attorney General as quickly as possible in the new year to ensure that this provision is sufficiently robust for early commencement and enforcement.”

Ends

Press Office, Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport
01 604 1090 / 01 604 1093
www.dttas.ie | (Enable Javascript to see the email address)

Initial Publication Date:
20/12/2016

Press Release: 2016 Christmas & New Year Anti Drink Driving Campaign

Stark and devastating detail in the latest ‘Crashed Lives’ ad from the RSA released today.

| December 1st 2016 | 

Transport, Tourism and Sport Minister Shane Ross TD has praised the parents of a little boy – killed by a drunk driver – for their bravery and generosity in leading the Christmas and New Year campaign against drink driving.

In an emotional and hard-hitting speech, Minister Ross saluted Gillian and Ronan Treacy, who lost their four-year-old son Ciaran in a head-on collision with a drunk driver in 2014.

Crashed Lives

The story of Gillian and Ronan – together with the Emergency Services who attended the scene of the collision and the medical team who fought to save Ciaran’s life while his mother was treated for horrific injuries – is told in stark and devastating detail in the latest ‘Crashed Lives’ ad from the RSA released today.

Minister Ross said:

“I just say ‘we salute you.’ It’s a fantastically brave and courageous thing to have done for everybody in the country and I have no doubt that you will save lives by what you’ve done today – by allowing this film to be made.”

At the event, which was also attended by the Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald and RSA Chairwoman Liz O’Donnell, Minister Ross said;

“Today we are here to try, with Gillian and Ronan’s help, to ensure that it [this tragedy] doesn’t happen again and that’s what this campaign is all about. I don’t think we can dismiss road deaths as ‘somebody else’s’ problem. Our message here today is that it is all our problem. It’s not just that we shouldn’t be drinking and driving ourselves but that we have a public duty in our daily lives to discourage other people from doing it. Drink driving kills, maims and shatters lives.”

“We did think that drinking and driving had become socially unacceptable, that it was a generational thing, only acceptable in the 80’s and 90’s and that it had ended.

This is not true. The reality is that it is a serious problem. And it has either dipped and is now resurrected, or it actually never went away. That is something that we, as legislators, and the Road Safety Authority and everybody in their daily lives have got to recognise and say, ‘we need to renew our crusade to stop people drinking and driving’.”

Minister Ross noted that road deaths this year are up by 20% and said that this is “completely and utterly unacceptable”.

He added, “I think this might indicate to us a more serious message – that while campaigns have been successful in their own way, that they are not enough – that we in government and in joint ventures and crusades with the RSA should look at other ways to combat this, as well as work in tandem.”

“The figures show the quite devastating reality that in 38% of fatal accidents alcohol played a part – alcohol was there, was consumed. Those figures come from 2012 and I’m told by those who work in the area that anecdotally things have gotten much worse since then. So this is urgent and it’s not anything we can claim to have beaten in any way. The trend is upwards and we have to do something about it.”

Minister Ross added that the Road Traffic Bill went through committee stage yesterday and should be passed before Christmas.

“This has some pretty sensible laws to combat drug driving, speed driving in housing estates and more efficient court procedures, “ he said.

“I think we have to recognise that we’re going to have to take some hard decisions in order to stop this curse which is taking away lives – young and old – and causing so many tragedies. I have been working with the Tánaiste in other forums and we will be absolutely determined to – if not remove – then reduce this scourge.

And the part played by Gillian and Ronan here today in doing that is something to which I think we should all pay tribute.”

Ends
Press Office, Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport | 01 604 1090 / 01 604 1093 |
www.dttas.ie | (Enable Javascript to see the email address)

Minister for Transport Shane Ross Visits Irish Lights Headquarters

Minister for Transport Shane Ross Visits Irish Lights Headquarters

| 9th November 2016 |

 minister-shane-ross-at-lighthouse

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross meets Stephen Kelly, Irish Lights while visiting the Irish Lights headquaters and marine depot in Dun Laoghaire.

Minister for Transport, Shane Ross paid a visit to the Commissioners of Irish Lights headquarters in Dun Laoghaire Harbour recently.

Irish Lights operate an essential safety navigation service around the island of Ireland aimed at protecting people, property and the environment at sea. Afloat adds this involves the use of an aids to navigation tender, ILV Granuaile, the workhorse of CIL’s marine operations which is based in Dun Laoghaire Harbour. The facility there includes the main depot for buoy repair and maintenance. 

Minister Ross heard about the range of new technologies that are enabling better navigation services for the mariner and the provision of new services such as environmental and ocean data for improved weather forecasting and planning of commercial activities at sea.

The service ensures that over 300 general aids to navigation (physical and electronic) operate reliably and to international standards around our coast 24/7 and 365 days of the year. Irish Lights also inspects and monitors over 4000 local aids around the coast.

Irish Lights also supports the Great Lighthouses of Ireland initiative which sees almost 200,000 tourists annually visiting working lighthouses. Accommodation is available in selected lighthouses on a year-round basis.

http://www.afloat.ie/port-news/lighthouses/item/34230-minister-shane-ross-td-visits-irish-lights-headquarters

Government should buy Ryanair stake in Aer Lingus

If I was a shareholder, I would take Willie Walsh’s arm off to accept his €2.55 bid for my stake in Aer Lingus – but as an Irishman, I would send him packing.

Irish Water and CIE quangos are just tax collectors

It costs an arm and a leg to come within an ass’s roar of the National Transport Authority.
Try it. A call to the quango that rubber-stamped the bus and train fare increases last week put the fear of God into me.

Don’t Worry, Michael, Her Majesty will Forgive You.

Has Michael O’Leary gone native? He was certainly out of tune with the native mood last week.
Natives of Ireland were utterly dismayed at his tasteless joke about sex and the Queen on Monday. His crude gag, aimed at ingratiating himself with an expectant audience at the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly “went down like a lead balloon”, according to chairman, Fine Gael TD Joe McHugh.

Iceman Cometh to Terminal 2

‘SO you can charge what you like then?” I asked the little monopolist.

“That’s the way it is,” he responded smugly.

“And you can open when you like?” I queried.

“That’s the way it is too,” he riposted triumphantly.

Every businessman’s dream.
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Mary: Muddled or Muzzled?

AER Lingus still rules OK? Last Wednesday a basement in the bowels of Leinster House resembled a padded cell for the insane. Michael O’Leary has turned the lunatics in the aviation asylum on their heads.

A man who was shedding no less than 1,100 jobs at the airport descended to the dungeon to confront a man who was promising 300 in the same place. The Oireachtas Transport Committee was hosting the row between O’Leary and Mary Coughlan’s allies in Dublin Airport and Aer Lingus.

Wednesday morning’s news had revealed that Christoph Mueller — of Aer Lingus and Germany — was threatening to make 1,100 employees compulsorily redundant.

On the same day Michael O’Leary — of Mullingar and Ryanair — entered the arena promising 300 jobs.

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Mary and the Little Tramp

MICHAEL O’LEARY is offering Mary Coughlan a simple deal. Give me Hangar 6 and I’ll give you 300 jobs.

More chillingly put: no hangar no jobs.

That is the way he does business. Three arms of the State have joined forces to block him.

While Michael is parading himself on the airwaves, they have despatched their armies of spin doctors to undermine him. None has the neck to confront him head on, so they are whispering behind his back. They are muttering that O’Leary is a showman. Which he is. That he is exploiting the airwaves to promote his cause. Which he is. That he is making mischief. Nobody does it better. And more wickedly, that he is not genuine about his jobs offer. Which he is.
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