Figures released by the Gardaí have shown the alcohol is a contributory factor in 38% of fatal crashes in the lead up to Christmas.

Gardaí released these figures at the launch of the RSA and An Garda Síochána’s annual Christmas and New Year Road Safety Campaign.

The RSA will be airing its anti-drink driving TV campaign ‘Ciaran’ over the festive period, which features the Treacy family who lost four year old Ciarán (pictured above) in a head-on collision with a drunk driver in April 2014.

Data from 2008 to 2016 reveals that 292 lives were taken during the months of November and December, with the average number of fatalities each month for this nine-year period standing at 16 in November and 16 in December.

The RSA have also revealed that Dublin, Cork and Galway had the highest number of fatalities in the lead up to Christmas, and these areas accounted for almost a third (32%) of the total number of fatalities that occurred during this time period.

They also found that the most prevalent times of day were between 4pm-8pm (33%) and 12pm-4pm (23%), followed by 12am-6am (22%).

Sundays are the most dangerous day statistically (21%) for fatal road traffic accidents, with most crashes taking place between midnight and 6am on Sunday mornings.

Drivers represent almost half (46%) of all road users killed in the lead up to Christmas, pedestrians represent over a quarter (26%) of fatalities, while passengers account for almost one fifth (18%).

To date this year, 143 people have been killed on Irish roads, a decrease of 26 when compared to the same period last year.

Meanwhile, arrest figures released by the Gardai for driving under the influence (DUI) up to end of October 2017 shows that there have been 7,428 drivers arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence compared to 6,637 up to October 2016. This is a 12% increase in DUI arrests in 2017.

Transport Minister Shane Ross says: “The statistics revealed today by the RSA and Gardai clearly indicate that alcohol remains the primary contributory factor in fatal crashes and is responsible for far too many deaths and injuries on Irish roads.

“Given the more difficult driving conditions typical of this time of year, November and December are already particularly dangerous months for driving. However, the statistics show that road safety is diminished further in these months due to the consumption of alcohol and speeding.

“I appeal to all those socialising during the Christmas and New Year period to do so responsibly and never, ever, drink and drive.

“As Minister for Transport I am currently bringing legislation through the Dail that will introduce an automatic disqualification for people who are caught drink driving and my Department has also started work on tackling issues involving speeding offences and fines. But I would urge everyone, please do not drink and drive and keep to the speed limits at all times.

“Let’s keep our roads safe this Christmas.”