Fianna Fáil TD and Spokesperson for National Drugs Strategy, Jack Chambers has said the introduction of preliminary roadside drug testing will impact positively on road safety.

The Deputy made his comments after receiving confirmation from the Minister that the new roadside tests for drugs, which will be known as preliminary drug tests will be commenced or implemented at the Easter bank holiday weekend.

The Road Traffic Bill passed in late 2016 makes it illegal for motorists to drive while under the influence of drugs including cannabis, heroin, cocaine and a range of benzodiazepines.

“Drug-related behaviour has been linked to many traffic incidents nationwide; particularly in recent years as poly-drug use has increased. In a study undertaken by the County Kildare coroner in 2014, over 1,300 samples from drivers were analysed for drugs, of which 58% tested positive. Some 52% were positive for two or more drugs,” explained the Dublin based TD.

“The new powers given to Gardaí will better ensure that dangerous drivers under the influence of drugs and at risk to the public are kept off the road.

“These tests will provide a valuable opportunity to highlight the dangers and serious risks that drug driving pose. The Road Safety Authority must now establish an effective public awareness campaign in the lead up to Easter, to support the introduction of these tests.

“This is just one of the suite of critical measures aimed to reduce the number of fatalities and accidents on our country’s roads. All relevant stakeholders including drivers and the wider public must take responsibility for promoting safe driving and ultimately save lives,” concluded Deputy Chambers.