Drug Driving Danger On Our Roads

One-in-seven motorists admitted in a What Car? poll that they drive on drugs while one-in-five young drivers in a More Than insurance survey say they would take to the wheel after using drugs.

Drink driving continues to be a menace on UK roads, but drug driving could quickly catch up and become as big a threat to road safety.

Latest police figures released today show 37.7% of drivers stopped for suspected drug driving over the festive period had drugs in their bloodstream compared with the 6.6% of motorists that failed alcohol breathalyser tests.

Studies also show that nearly one-in-five motorists killed on our roads had some kind of illicit drug in their bloodstream, a six-fold increase over 10 years and nearly as high as alcohol fatalities.

Just 666 drivers were tested for impairment through drugs over the Christmas period, however, compared with more than 145,867 alcohol tests. Police have no equipment for roadside testing of suspected drug drivers, so have to use various balancing tests which one drug driver What Car? spoke to for an online video podcast treated as a joke. The Association of Chief Police Officers describes the process as 'bureaucratic and difficult to enforce.'

What Car? group editor Steve Fowler said: 'It's right that the Home Office should set high standards for the approval of roadside drug driver equipment, but it's clear that roadside 'drugalyser' tests are desperately needed.

'The drug driver we spoke to thought he had little prospect of being caught at the moment, but said he would instantly stop if the police could test him with proper equipment by the roadside.'

There's no telling when this kind of equipment might be approved by the Home Office. A key police officer told What Car? they will wait as long the Home Office wants, but leading independent drug impairment expert Dr Rob Tunbridge, said: 'We need the equipment as soon as possible.

'Brits are some of the worst drug driving offenders in Europe, and drug driving could become as serious a problem in the UK as drink driving.  Many people just don’t realise the effects that illegal drugs have on their ability to drive and to think straight, and this may be part of the reason why young people in particular continue to drive while impaired by drugs'.

Leading motor insurer MORE TH>N has identified drug driving as one of the most serious sources of emerging risk on Britain’s roads and is pushing for the speedy introduction of roadside drugs screening devices similar to those being used successfully in other countries, including Germany, Switzerland and Australia.

18 January 2007 Staff

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