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Crackdown on drug driving set to launch in 2015

Drug Driving

A new attack on drug-driving will be implemented in 2015, seeing police officers testing drivers for drugs by the side of the road. These guidelines will clarify limits for prescription drugs, and take a zero-tolerance stand on all illicit drugs.

Driving under the influence of drink and drugs has been illegal for decades, but new legislation will be more severe and implemented with greater clarity, according to a Government report.

One aim of the legislation is to distinguish between those taking medication responsibly and those not only taking banned substances but abusing prescription drugs. Limits have been set for 16 commonly prescribed drugs, and new detection devices will make drug-screening simpler and more reliable than ever before.

With many over-the-counter medications capable of inducing drowsiness and impaired judgement or motor skills, there have been calls to change the system both to aid police and also to educate vehicle owners in responsible use of medication when driving.

Ean Lewin, managing director of DTec International, manufacturer of drug-screening devices noted the relevance of this new legislation to fleet car operators.

He said: ‘If the police find someone over the limit for drugs, they will want to know if they were driving on business.’

One of the reasons for this is the fact 10% of the UK population use drugs, and 75% of those are in full time employment. It is likely then, that many will be driving vehicles for work purposes.

Clearer data on the risks of certain drugs when driving has also been uncovered. The risk of a crash when under the influence of cannabis, the UK’s most widely used drug, is said to increase two to six-fold. While less commonly used, methamphetamines are significantly more likely to cause a crash.

John Catling of FMG said: ‘We shouldn’t ignore the fact that some prescription drugs will affect an individual’s ability to drive. It’s vital that those employees don’t feel under pressure from their employer to take the risk.’

It has also been suggested that in addition to the importance of safety and employee care that fleet owners should bear in mind when implementing checks, the economic benefit of maintaining a healthy and efficient workforce is also a factor.

The impact of accidents on fleet overheads in terms of repairs, increased insurance premiums, lost business and finding replacement drivers can be significant. Indeed, it is estimated that an employer can spend up to 25% of an injured driver’s salary in carrying out interviews and providing adequate training for a replacement.

(Image courtesy of Ambro/


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