Calls for Irish cars to have devices to prevent drink driving
An Irish MEP wants to see devices installed in repeat drink drivers' cars, to prevent them getting behind the wheel when drunk.
Deirdre Clune says interlocks have proven successful in lowering the number of fatalities on the roads elsewhere.
The device - similar to a breathalyser - prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver is above the legal blood alcohol limit.
Alcohol contributes to about 25% of all road deaths in Europe. Last year, that would have meant 6,500 deaths across the EU were caused by drunk drivers.
Several countries in the EU - including Sweden, Finland, France, Belgium and the Netherlands - have laws requiring drink driving offenders to install alcohol interlocks in their vehicles.
Research by the European Commission has shown that the use of alcohol interlocks is more effective to stop drunk drivers from re-offending than traditional measures, such as license withdrawal or fines.
Similarly, a Finnish report published in 2013 showed a relapse rate of 6% when interlocks were used, compared to the usual 30% rate in Finland.
"It is a simple system that tests a drivers alcohol levels before they start the ignition. Drunk drivers should be given some level of leniency in terms of a driving ban if they are willing to fit and cover the costs of an independent alcohol interlock in their own car", Ms Clune says.
"We have made consistent progress on road safety in Europe since 2001 when road deaths were almost 55,000. Road deaths across Europe now stand at 26,000 people. Our target should be to ensure that nobody dies on our roads".
"The EU is currently reviewing which technologies should be included in new vehicles as part of its review of the General Safety Regulation. The more countries that introduce this within Europe - the better, and I am calling on the Department of Transport to introduce the interlock system without haste", she added.