Wednesday, 16 November 1960
Dáil Eireann Debate
Major de Valera: asked the Minister for Justice (a) the number of road and traffic accidents involving loss of life reported to the Garda Síochána during each of the years 1958, 1959 and 1960 to date and the number of persons who lost their lives as a result of such accidents, (b) the number of prosecutions taken to Court as a consequence, (c) the number of convictions resulting therefrom and (d) the  number of cases in which sentences of imprisonment were imposed.
Mr. Traynor: The reply is in the form of a tabular statement which, with the permission of the Leas-Cheann Comhairle, will be circulated with the Official Report. It will, of course, be understood that a prosecution relates, not to an accident as such, but to a specific offence such as dangerous or careless driving.
|Year||Fatal traffic accidents||Number killed||Number of persons prosecuted||Number* convicted||Number sentenced to imprisonment|
Major de Valera: asked the Minister for Justice in respect of each of the years 1958, 1959 and 1960 to date (a) the total number of fatal road accidents which occurred in the City and County of Dublin and (b) the total number of persons who lost their lives as the result thereof.
Mr. Traynor: The figures for Dublin City and County are as follows:— 1958: 70 fatal accidents, 72 persons killed. 1959: 69 fatal accidents, 70 persons killed. 1960 (to 31st October): 56 fatal accidents, 57 persons killed.
Major de Valera: asked the Minister for Justice (a) the total number of prosecutions under the Road Traffic Acts during the years 1958, 1959 and 1960 to date in which a charge relating to the driving or control of a mechanically propelled vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating drink was pursued, (b) the number of convictions on such charges and (c) the number of cases in which sentences of imprisonment were imposed.
Mr. Traynor: Statistics of prosecutions for traffic offences are compiled on an annual basis up to 30th September of each year and are included in the annual Crime Reports of the Commissioner, Garda Síochána, which are laid on the Table of both Houses. They include the number of prosecutions and convictions for driving or attempting to drive while drunk but not the number of sentences of imprisonment, and the latter figure could now be ascertained only by means of an elaborate and expensive inquiry.
The figures for the year ending 30th September, 1960, will not be available for some time yet—probably a few months. The figures for the years ending 30th September, 1958, and 1959 are as follows: 1958—Number proceeded against, 349; Number convicted, 244. 1959—Number proceeded against, 479; Number convicted, 316.
Mr. Dillon: Would it be administratively possible for the Minister to ask the Garda to prepare for his information a return showing the total number of prosecutions under the Road Traffic Acts not only in the case  of the driver charged with being in control of a mechanically propelled vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating drink but also a supplementary record of those cases where the Garda believe that while the driver was not technically under the influence of drink, the consumption of drink by the driver had contributed to the occurrence of the accident?
Mr. Traynor: I think that would be an unreasonable request to make to the Garda. It would require a tremendous amount of research and it is very doubtful if they could give accurate information on such a subject. For instance, if the court has somebody brought before it on a charge of drunken driving and he is found guilty, that ends the matter as far as the Garda is concerned, and it is not their business to find out how much drink the individual took before the charge was brought. I do not believe they could even find that out if they tried. With regard to the other information, it might be possible with a tremendous amount of research to get it but, as I mentioned in reply to the question, we can only give statistics for the actual convictions because we are sure they have taken place. I do not think it would be reasonable to ask the Garda to deal with the other matters.
Mr. Dillon: I am not suggesting there should be a retrospective inquiry. I quite agree that would be virtually impossible. But would the Minister consider asking the Commissioner hereafter to require Garda who are conducting proceedings as a result of road accidents to give, for the Minister's confidential information, if necessary, their view as to whether the consumption of alcoholic drink by the driver had or had not contributed to the accident, leaving questions of convictions and statistical record to the verdict of the court.
Major de Valera: Arising out of the Minister's answer be is not able to give the number of cases of imprisonment. Could he say how many sentences of imprisonment under the appropriate section of the Road Traffic Act were imposed in the years in question?
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