THE number of motorists arrested in Limerick on suspicion of drink driving increased by more than 7% last year compared to 2014.
Provisional figures show there were a total of 353 people arrested across the Limerick garda division during 2015 for drink-driving related offences compared to 327 during the previous 12- month period.
The figures include arrests which were made by both uniformed gardai as well as members of the divisional traffic corps.
“The figures show there was a concerted effort (during 2015) to deter incidents of drink driving and it is disappointing to see such an increase in the number of detections,” said Inspector Paul Reidy, head of the divisional traffic corps.
The majority of those arrested on suspicion have been prosecuted and many are currently before the courts awaiting trial.
While the number of drink-driving detections increased last year, the number of fatalities more than halved.
Four people died in four separate accidents during 2015 compared to 11 in 2014 and five in both 2013 and 2012.
The figure is less than a fifth of the number of fatalities in 2009 when 23 people died. “There has been a real effort in recent years and we have certain things in place and they are paying dividends,” said Insp Reidy
Two of those who died last year were pedestrians while the other two were passengers in cars which were in collision with other vehicle.
Three of the fatal accidents occurred in the Newcastle West garda district while one was in the Roxboro Road garda district at Clarina.
Nationally, the number of road deaths fell by 15% to 165 during 2015. An analysis of the fatal collisions, published by the Road Safety Authority (RSA) shows July and December were the deadliest with 20 fatalities during each of the three months.
There were 32 road deaths on Sundays and the deadliest time of day was 10am and 12pm – accounting for 20 fatalities.
“While every death on our roads is one death too many, I sincerely hope that 2015 is a return to the steady progress we were making as a country, up to 2012, to make our roads safer for everybody,” said the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Paschal Donohoe.
While welcoming the downward trend in terms of serious accidents recorded, Insp Reidy said that gardai locally will not be resting on their laurels this year.
He added that a major concern to the force is the continued use of mobile phones by drivers.
“You would have to be blind not to see the amount of motorists who are using a mobile phone while driving, he said.
“It is one of the most dangerous high-risk actions and I would appeal to people to acquire a hands free kit,” he added.