Bus firm innovates with alcohol-tracking device for drivers

18 Jun 2012

Paddy Matthews, managing director of Matthews Coach Hire, pictured with the breathalyser device that the company has installed on each of its buses

Matthews Coach Hire, a Co Monaghan-based coach-hire company, says it has become the first Irish transport company to kit out all of its buses with breathalyser devices known as Alcolocks.

The coach hire company, which is based in Inishkeen in Co Monaghan, featured in a BBC 1 Northern Ireland News documentary last Friday about how the alcohol interlock devices work on its coaches since they were first installed in 2008.

Apparently, the device works as thus: in order to get the coach to start, the driver has to blow into a breathalyser connected to the ignition.

If the driver fails the test, the engine won’t start. Or, if a driver stops for more than 30 minutes, the system will re-set, so they will have to do another test.

According to Matthews Coach Hire’s managing director Paddy Matthews, he made the decision to install the devices on his coaches after a 2007 bus crash that happened in England.

The driver of that particular bus for National Express was later found to have been over the legal alcohol limit.

Back in 2009 from the Road Safety Authority awarded Matthews Coach Hire for its use of the alcohol inhibitors.

Fleet manager Noel Matthews said today that the company is now upgrading the devices on its fleet and will be using Canadian technology. He pointed to companies such as Carlsberg, which uses similar devices on its fleets as well as in the cars of directors.

The company has also been innovating around sustainability. A few years ago it installed a rainwater harvesting facility to wash its buses. Matthews said that the water is continuously recycled and re-used.

Matthews Coach Hire

Matthews’ coaches lined up. Image courtesy of the company’s Facebook page

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic