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Risks of drug-driving

Driving whilst under the influence of drugs has shot up in the UK, according to data released recently by ACPO, the Association of Police Chief Officers. Heralding an 8pc drop in alcohol-related arrests from the annual Christmas Drink and Drug Driving campaign, few news reports picked up that more than one in four drivers were arrested after they failed a Field Impairment Test (FIT), the method police use to assess whether a driver is under the influence of drugs. So points out the company ScreenSafe UK, a provider of drug and alcohol testing services.

This is a significant increase over previous years: 28pc of drivers failed the FIT assessment during December 2013, in comparison to 21pc over the same period in 2012, a rise of nearly a third. In 2011 the figure was 16.85pc. Police carried out 513 FITs, arresting 143 people, almost double the 77 arrests in the equivalent period the year before, when 360 FITs were carried out.

In comparison, 3.4pc of drivers failed a breath alcohol test, nine times less than the proportion of positive drug-driving FIT assessments.

Matt Taylor, Managing Director of ScreenSafe, said: “Most reports focussed on drink driving but ignored this surge in driving under the influence of drugs. We need to be cautious in that these figures are based on a small population of just 500 tests, as the police have to rely on a judgmental assessment and are not yet allowed to use the equipment other countries employ to test drivers by the roadside. Nevertheless the results are a significant increase in drug-driving tests and arrests in just one year. It reflects what many safety organisations have been saying over the last few years, that the message about the risks of drug-driving is just not getting through.”

“Next December’s Christmas drug-driving campaign by the police may look very different, if they have the use of instant roadside drug testing equipment. There could many thousands more tests being carried out and then we will have a far more accurate picture to the extent of risk people are taking if they have drugs in their system whilst driving.”

The firm adds that last year it joined with the Road Haulage Association (RHA) to introduce SmartTest and encourage haulage operators and fleet managers to prepare for the new laws in drug driving coming in this year and the introduction of roadside drug testing devices which will lead the company says to a significant rise in drug-driving testing.


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