Tuesday, 19 January 2016
Road Traffic Bill 2016: Second Stage
I welcome the Minister and thank him for being here for Second Stage of the Bill. The Bill expands on existing legislation, specifically addresses drug driving and proposes a number of road traffic measures such as providing for the further lowering of speed limits in residential areas. It also provides for the recognition of driving disqualifications between Ireland and the UK and proposes miscellaneous amendments to the Road Traffic Acts 1961 to 2015.
I warmly welcome the Bill. For far too long, there has been no testing for drug driving. While we rightly have stringent drink driving laws and tests, we have largely ignored drug driving and how to deal with it. People driving under the influence of drugs cause accidents and injury to themselves and others, and it is crucial that the legislation be put in place to allow for drug testing of road users. Although we are not yet into the second month of 2016, several people have died on our roads. In 2015, between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, 239 people died on our roads. We must do everything we possibly can to minimise the danger on our roads by implementing testing for drug driving. This will be a step in the right direction to improve safety on Irish roads.
The Bill provides for a new offence of driving or being in charge of a mechanically propelled vehicle with the presence of certain illicit drugs, namely, cannabis, cocaine and heroin. It makes provision for preliminary testing of oral fluid for drugs by the Garda Síochána at the road side or in a Garda station. It empowers the Medical Bureau of Road Safety to supply the test devices for use by the Garda Síochána in preliminary drug testing.
As well as seeking to implement drug driving testing, the Bill implements a bilateral agreement which was agreed between Ireland and the UK and allows for the application of driving disqualifications for a number of specified road traffic offences committed by those normally resident, or holding a driving licence, in either jurisdiction. Where the offence was committed in the other jurisdiction, the agreement will ensure people who have driving disqualifications in the UK will have them recognised in Ireland and vice versa. The implementation of the agreement will help make our roads safer for all our road users.
I fully support the Bill and look forward to its implementation and the positive effects it will have in making our roads safer for all our road users.