In the UK, the law has meant it has been impossible to gauge the significance of drug-driving, where less than a tenth are prosecuted for the offense than, for example, in Germany, despite a higher record of reported drug use in this country. There is a stark difference to the UK’s approach to drug-driving in comparison with Germany for example, where roadside tests lead to 30,000 drug-driving prosecutions a year.
However new laws are being introduced in the UK, that will begin the process of bringing drug-driving legislation more in line with drink-driving.
Police stations all over the country are being prepared for the festive period with drug-testing equipment that will allow them to gauge whether a suspected drug-driver has taken illegal substances.
Last month, ITV claimed that “the new equipment will allow officers to prove if drivers have taken cannabis in a matter of minutes using a simple swab.”
Changes to the law will enable Police to test suspected drug-drivers for illegal substances, and marks a considerable effort to crack down on drug-drivers, and transport businesses must be prepared to do their part.
“Some organisations have already realised the importance of gearing up for those changes and can help their staff keep safe and keep their jobs”, says Matt Taylor, Managing Director of UK’s leading drug and alcohol test provider, ScreenSafe.
“Earlier this year the Road Haulage Association announced the launch of RHA Smart Test, with its own dedicated website and 24/7 customer service to provide a facility which covers all aspects of drug and alcohol screening – including policy writing, sample collection, laboratory analysis, training and education.”
ScreenSafe have issued a white paper entitled “PREPARE” aimed at fleet operators to help them get their drivers ready for the new law. This predominantly outlined the changes and recommended straightforward tips and advice on ensuring they have the right policy in place. The paper has been welcomed by national road safety organisations such as Road Safety GB and the Traffic Commissioner.
Speaking at a recent industry event Senior Traffic Commissioner, Beverley Bell, said that managing the risks around drink and drug driving should be an urgent priority for all operator licence holders: “Traffic commissioners are clear about the professional standards we expect to see from HGV, bus and coach drivers – it is not appropriate for any driver to be under the influence of drink or drugs while operating a commercial vehicle. Operators play a key role in this and need to have an occupational road risk policy in place to deal with instances where drink or drug driving is identified.
It is absolutely critical for licence holders to ensure that drivers are aware of the professional standards and the operator’s policy. Licence holders should also plan for the risk of a driver failing to uphold those standards.”
Mr Taylor urged fleet operators that “Now is the time to prepare your drivers for the changes to the law – help make them risk-aware an implement a policy that includes drug testing before it is tragically too late. A well considered, legally correct and properly implemented policy, protects not only an employer but also their employees, and provide reassurance that the testing is being carried out legitimately.”
Copies of PREPARE are free: simply input your details and a copy will be emailed to you