There has been a 700% increase in the number of motorists testing positive for drug-driving since roadside sampling began.

The startling figures were released amid concerns by road safety campaigners who are demanding greater resources for Garda traffic cops. The fear is that drug-driving is set to prove as deadly an issue as drink-driving. A total of 90 motorists tested positive for drug-driving in the routine roadside checks. In 9 months of testing, April yielded the lowest positive test tally with only three motorists failing the roadside check. In December, the number of failed tests rose to 22 motorists: an increase of almost 700%. This is equivalent to a motorist being detected for suspected drug-driving every 32 hours.

The statistics indicate that motorists driving under the influence of drugs is a significantly greater problem than initially feared by the authorities, warned Promoting Awareness Responsibility & Care (PARC) road safety founder Susan Gray. “We need to provide the resources for the Gardai to tackle this problem, which is every bit as deadly as people getting behind the wheel and driving while intoxicated”, she said.

The new provision of the Road Traffic Act (2016) allows Gardai to conduct drug detection testing at roadside checkpoints using the Drager 5000 analysis device. This device tests a driver’s saliva for traces of cannabis, cocaine, opiates (such as heroin) and benzodiazepine drugs (such as Valium). Since it was introduced in April 2017, the Gardai have mounted almost 52,400 roadside checks.

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