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Festival-goers urged to act responsibly on the roads and ensure a safe journey to and from Electric Picnic 2023

road safety 01.09.2023

RSA reminds festival-goers of the dangers of the morning after - 11% of fatal collisions in which a driver had consumed alcohol occurred between the hours of 7am and 11am.

The Road Safety Authority (RSA) and An Garda Síochána (AGS) have joined forces to urge Electric Picnic attendees to stay safe on the road this weekend. This year’s festival will once again see over 70,000 people travelling to and from Stradbally, Co. Laois.

The RSA and An Garda Síochána are reminding festival-goers of the risks associated with operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. They are urging road users to be especially cautious on their journey home following a weekend of socialising at the festival. If driving the morning after, motorists are urged not to get behind the wheel until they are in a safe condition to do so.

Attendees are reminded to plan their journeys to and from the festival and to consider public transportation, asking a friend or family member for a lift or hiring a taxi to take them to and from the event. Dedicated public transport routes along with an allocated drop off area close to the event entrance make this option an excellent alternative to using your car.

Other road safety messages such as wearing seatbelts, obeying speed limits, putting away your mobile phone while driving and staying alert are being reinforced. If driving to and from the event, drivers are reminded to be well rested before getting behind the wheel of a vehicle. If feeling fatigued, stop in a  safe place, have a caffeinated drink, and take frequent breaks to help stay alert.

An Garda Síochána will have a dedicated Traffic Management Plan and they ask that  attendees familiarise themselves with their route and drive within the speed limits.

At the sitting of Portlaoise Court on the 28th of April 2023, when the festival organisers applied for their license, Judge Andrew Cody raised concerns about festival-goers driving home on the Monday morning while tired or intoxicated. He recalled the 2006 crash just two miles outside Portlaoise when three young Cork people lost their lives early Monday afternoon on their way home from a similar festival, which the coroner had concluded was because of tiredness.”

He was concerned that festival-goers might be asked to leave the site too soon without the opportunity to get adequate sleep and was also concerned that drivers may still be under the influence of alcohol when driving home.  Consequently, this year the bars will close an hour earlier on Sunday night, and on Monday 4 September the car parks will remain open until 4pm, three hours longer than previous years to accommodate drivers until they are fit to drive.

Mr. Sam Waide, Chief Executive, Road Safety Authority said: “Electric Picnic 2023 promises to be a fun and enjoyable weekend for all attendees, but festival-goers should think responsibly when planning their journeys to and from the festival. To date in 2023, we have already seen too many lives lost on our roads, with one in four being young people aged 16-25 years. Slow down, don’t use a mobile phone while driving and remember, driving the morning after consuming drugs or alcohol will put you in danger. A very simple safety message for those attending Electric Picnic this weekend is: don’t drink and drive, don’t take drugs and drive.”

Chief Superintendent Anthony Lonergan, Laois Offaly Kildare Division said:It is our priority to ensure that all those who travel to and from Electric Picnic are not put at risk by the minority of drivers who drive while under the influence of an intoxicant. Throughout the weekend, our Roads Policing Unit will be out on the roads conducting checkpoints including Mandatory Intoxicant Testing (MIT). We remind all drivers that the roadside swab can test for the presence of cannabis, cocaine, benzodiazepines, opiates, amphetamines and methamphetamines. The penalty for driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs is a maximum €5,000 fine and up to six months imprisonment with disqualification of up to four years for a first offence and six years for a second or subsequent offence. This year all carparks at Electric Picnic will remain open until 4pm on Monday 4th September 2023. Beverages and food will be available in all carparks and drivers are reminded to only drive when they are fit to do so.”

Professor Denis Cusack, Director of the Medical Bureau of Road Safety (MBRS) said: “Drink and drug driving remain major problems for road safety in Ireland, at a time when we see road deaths increasing across all ages including younger people who should have had a long life ahead of them. Alcohol, drugs and combinations of drugs with alcohol significantly impair a person’s ability to drive safely for several hours after, potentially leading to crashes with life-shattering injuries and deaths. Do take any medications you need for health conditions you might have but only under medical or pharmacist advice and guidance making sure they are safe for driving.”

“The new and updated roadside test for drugs, launched last year, enables Garda members to identify drivers who have consumed drugs and test positive in oral fluid for drugs such as cannabis, cocaine, benzodiazepines, opiates, amphetamines and methamphetamines. If consuming drugs and alcohol this weekend, take care for your own wellbeing and safety and drive safely. Ensure you and your friends have a non-intoxicated designated driver for your journey home to your families from what we hope will be a fantastic and enjoyable weekend for you all.”