With the festive party season now underway, those of us who are preparing to go out celebrating in Co Monaghan are being asked to think ahead to ensure everyone gets home safely. Adrian O’Sullivan, Road Safety Officer with Monaghan County Council has the following timely advice: “The Christmas party season is getting into full swing and it’s a time when many of us will be out enjoying the festivities. To encourage people to get home safely, Monaghan County Council have launched their ‘Gift A Lift’ road safety Christmas card campaign. The idea is that you commit to give a family member or friend one lift home or organise a taxi for them over the festive season using the specially designed ‘Here’s something that will give you a little lift this Christmas’ card”.
Adrian added “The ‘Gift of a lift’ card is a novel way of getting across a serous message as road users need to be extra careful at this time of year when roads are at their busiest and conditions can be dangerous. We have had five fatal collisions in County Monaghan to date in 2022 which has resulted in six people losing their lives, leaving behind devastated families who will be spending their first Christmas without their loved ones. In addition, there have been several serious collisions, some of which didn’t make the news headlines, but which have left people with life changing injuries. I would appeal to everyone to ensure they have a safe and happy festive season and to take extra care when using the roads. It’s not worth taking a chance on driving if you have consumed any alcohol or drugs. Don’t let your actions spoil a good night out and bring tragedy to your family this Christmas.”
While alcohol remains the most frequently detected intoxicant in driving in Ireland, cannabis is the second most frequently found intoxicant with detection rates among drivers continuing to increase, with cocaine being the third most found intoxicant drug detected. As drug use in Irish society continues to increase and diversify this translates into more dangerous intoxicated driving.
Also speaking at the launch of the campaign was Sergeant Niall Leech from the Co Monaghan Garda Roads Policing Unit who welcoming the initiative had this advice: “An Garda Síochána are reminding drivers to plan ahead when going out to celebrate over the holiday period. Leave the car keys at home and either get a taxi or designate a driver. Don’t forget you may still be over the legal alcohol limit the following morning, so don’t take any chances. The Gardaí will continue to focus on locations and times where fatal and serious injury collisions have previously occurred. One of our primary goals is to reduce the number of people driving while under the influence of alcohol and illegal drugs. The new preliminary testing equipment which has been operational since 1st December will increase our capability to test drivers for the presence of illegal drugs. The new Securetec® Drugwipe 6s roadside drug testing device, which has been introduced by the Medical Bureau of Road Safety (MBRS) and rolled out to Gardaí across the country”.
“The new system allows for the collection of the oral fluid in a very rapid fashion, reducing the test time to 2 – 8 minutes and is similar to a Covid Antigen test. It can detect the presence of Cannabis, Cocaine, Benzodiazepines, Opiates, Amphetamine and Methamphetamine. This enhanced drug testing system is timely as drug use in Irish society continues to increase and diversify which in turn translates into more dangerous intoxicated driving. Roads Policing continues throughout the year in County Monaghan and Christmas time will be no different. Our advice is simple: Arrive home safe this Christmas and don’t ever drink or drive while under the influence of either alcohol or drugs” added Sergeant Leech.
Monaghan Ambulance Service and Monaghan Fire and Civil Protection are also supporting the Christmas road safety campaign as the effects of attending the scene of road traffic collisions can have a profound effect on their members as well as families, friends and local communities.
Dermot Brannigan, Chief Fire Officer, Monaghan Fire & Civil Protection has this message: “I am urging all road users to act responsibly and to not drink or drug drive when using the roads throughout the Christmas and New Year period. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs can have catastrophic consequences with members of the emergency services having to deal with the horrific aftermath of such collisions. There has been a marked increase in the number of road traffic accidents attended by Monaghan Fire Service to date in 2022, accounting for approximately of 33% of all call outs. I would appeal to all road users not to take risks on the road and to make safer choices. Slow down, don’t drink or drug drive, wear your seatbelt and watch out for vulnerable road users this festive season. No members of the emergency services want to attend a crash which will result in an empty seat at some family’s table this Christmas following a road death”.
We all know someone for whom it can be difficult to choose a Christmas present, so why not give them the ‘Gift of a Lift’ and ensure they get home safely over the party season. The card can be collected from any County Monaghan library branch (subject to availability) or downloaded for free from the Road Safety section at www.Monaghan.ie.
148 people have died on the roads as at 6th December 2022 – this represents an increase of 27 on the same day last year. Separately, 1,174 people were seriously injured on our roads this year up to 27 November 2022.