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Crackdown on driving under the influence of drink or drugs

A record number of motorists were breathalysed in a national crackdown on drink and drug driving in January 2008. Despite hard hitting advertising and increased enforcement, people are clearly still willing to drink and drive, risking not just their lives but the lives of innocent people.

Drug Drivers were also targeted during this initiative. Anyone suspected of being under the influence of drugs were asked to undergo a series of physical co-ordination tests.

In the light of the latest results, of the South Yorkshire police will continue to focus on drink and drug driving to protect the public from the actions of these dangerous and uncaring motorists.

Drugs and drivers

Driving under the influence of drugs

Drinking and driving is well known issue, but increasingly people are driving after taking drugs. Essex Police estimate that one in 20 people drive after taking drugs. However, drugged drivers are harder to convict because there is no clear legal limit like there is for drink driving.

Medical experts state that drugs can affect drivers in a number of ways, although research is still being carried out on the specific effects on individuals.

Impaired drivers

Drink driving casualties have increased by more than a third over the past decade. One in six drivers deaths are caused by drivers over the drink–drive limit, while many more crashes are caused by drivers who have smaller amounts of alcohol in their blood. An estimated 80 road Deaths per year are caused by drivers who are under the drink-drive limit, but who have a significant amount of alcohol in their blood. Drugged driving is also an increasing concern. Research by the Transport Research Labs has found that 17.7% of drivers who die in crashes have traces of illegal drugs in their system. Many drugged drivers who have killed have been found to have taken a lethal cocktail of drugs and alcohol.

Many of these drivers died from head-injury’s caused by lack of Co-ordination due to drink or drug related driving.

According to a Government survey of 100,000 drives, half admitted to drink- driving (drinking any amount of alcohol before driving) at least once in the last twelve months. One in four drivers also admitted to driving after drinking an amount of alcohol they know was affecting their driving. More than one in four drivers admitted driving the morning after having had a lot to drink, when they were likely to still be well over the legal drink-drive limit.

We want the drink drive limits to be lowered from the current blood-alcohol level of 80mg/100ml of blood to 20mg/100ml of blood; the same as in Finland and Norway. This would reinforce the message not to drive after drinking any alcohol. The Government has estimated that even reducing the drink-drive limit to 50mg/100ml blood in line with EU recommendations and most of the other EU Countries-would save over 50 lives a year in the UK. That must make lowering the limit worth it.

The current Road Safety Minister has argued that a lower limit is impractical to enforce. Drink-dive casualties increase each year and should also be enough of an incentive to get action from the Government now.

We want drivers registering any level of illegal drugs in their blood stream to be prosecuted, whether or not it can be proved their driving was impaired.

This principle is already established for drink-drive offences: drivers can be prosecuted for having more that a certain level of alcohol in their blood, regardless of whether there was any evidence of their driving being impaired.

Introducing a similar offence for Drug-Driving would make it much easier to catch and to prosecute drugged drivers.

The man shown here lying unconscious in a hospital bed was hit by a drugged driver who was high on Ecstasy. He has permanent brain damage and will not be returning to work, should he recover conciousness.

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