Drugs

Don’t Drug Drive

It seems that the rules on drink driving are forever becoming more stringent as the government crack down on alcohol unit consumption and roadside breathalyser testing. Unfortunately, the problem of driving while under the influence of drugs has always taken a back seat due to its ominous subject matter…until now.

An advertising campaign warning of the risks of driving after taking drugs has hit Britain’s small screens in a big way. The television advert, which is currently receiving extensive exposure, warns motorists that police can visually detect signs that someone is under the influence of drugs.

The advert portrays jovial youths driving a car with hugely enlarged eyes. The advert’s slogan claims, “Your eyes will give you away”. This technique has been used to emphasise the fact that police can spot drug takers due to their severely dilated or constricted pupils.

The most shocking revelation to have emanated from this campaign is that one in five drivers or riders killed in road accidents may have an impairing drug (legal or illegal) in their system. A statistic like that is enough to make anyone want to leave their car parked safely in the garage forever more.

The current charge for getting caught driving under the influence of drugs is £5,000 and up to six months in prison. However, this simply does not stop drug users driving under the influence in the first place. The simple reason for this? In order to get charged, you have to get caught.

Transport Secretary Lord Adonis commented on the campaign’s boldness in saying:

“It’s socially acceptable to drink, but it’s not socially acceptable to be a drink driver, and we need to do the same with drugs. Whatever one’s views on drug taking, we’ve got to make it absolutely socially unacceptable to drive while under the influence of drugs, because it can kill.”

Road safety charity Brake has also welcomed the £2.3m campaign but says it is more important for ministers to approve a breathalyser-style drug testing device.

Police currently have no equivalent to an alcohol breathalyser to test for drugs and instead use a Field Impairment Test or FIT. This can include the Romberg Test in which a driver is asked to close their eyes and estimate when 30 seconds have elapsed. Drugs impair the body’s internal clock so drug users tend to be wildly inaccurate.

Cathy Keeler, deputy chief executive of Brake is delighted with the campaign but feels the government is dragging its heels on approving a roadside testing device. Countries like Germany are already using saliva wipes to catch lots of drug drivers.

Mrs Keeler said: “There are already some devices out there that can identify some of the most common drugs people take and there’s really no reason for the government to wait for some perfect device to detect all of them”.

So while we wait for this new device to materialize we will have to sit tight and hope that the new campaign can steer motorists away from using drugs before hitting the road. With such a flimsy testing process currently in place, clearly some motorists are still willing take the risk of getting behind the wheel and receiving a £5,000 fine and a prison sentence.It seems that the rules on drink driving are forever becoming more stringent as the government crack down on alcohol unit consumption and roadside breathalyser testing. Unfortunately, the problem of driving while under the influence of drugs has always taken a back seat due to its ominous subject matter…until now.

An advertising campaign warning of the risks of driving after taking drugs has hit Britain’s small screens in a big way. The television advert, which is currently receiving extensive exposure, warns motorists that police can visually detect signs that someone is under the influence of drugs.

The advert portrays jovial youths driving a car with hugely enlarged eyes. The advert’s slogan claims, “Your eyes will give you away”. This technique has been used to emphasise the fact that police can spot drug takers due to their severely dilated or constricted pupils.

The most shocking revelation to have emanated from this campaign is that one in five drivers or riders killed in road accidents may have an impairing drug (legal or illegal) in their system. A statistic like that is enough to make anyone want to leave their car parked safely in the garage forever more.

The current charge for getting caught driving under the influence of drugs is £5,000 and up to six months in prison. However, this simply does not stop drug users driving under the influence in the first place. The simple reason for this? In order to get charged, you have to get caught.

Transport Secretary Lord Adonis commented on the campaign’s boldness in saying:

“It’s socially acceptable to drink, but it’s not socially acceptable to be a drink driver, and we need to do the same with drugs. Whatever one’s views on drug taking, we’ve got to make it absolutely socially unacceptable to drive while under the influence of drugs, because it can kill.”

Road safety charity Brake has also welcomed the £2.3m campaign but says it is more important for ministers to approve a breathalyser-style drug testing device.

Police currently have no equivalent to an alcohol breathalyser to test for drugs and instead use a Field Impairment Test or FIT. This can include the Romberg Test in which a driver is asked to close their eyes and estimate when 30 seconds have elapsed. Drugs impair the body’s internal clock so drug users tend to be wildly inaccurate.

Cathy Keeler, deputy chief executive of Brake is delighted with the campaign but feels the government is dragging its heels on approving a roadside testing device. Countries like Germany are already using saliva wipes to catch lots of drug drivers.

Mrs Keeler said: “There are already some devices out there that can identify some of the most common drugs people take and there’s really no reason for the government to wait for some perfect device to detect all of them”.

So while we wait for this new device to materialize we will have to sit tight and hope that the new campaign can steer motorists away from using drugs before hitting the road. With such a flimsy testing process currently in place, clearly some motorists are still willing take the risk of getting behind the wheel and receiving a £5,000 fine and a prison sentence.