Professional drivers could see a zero-tolerance attitude towards drugs being made a legal part of their contracts which would mean an automatic ban if they were found to be behind the wheel under the influence of any substances.
It is part of a government initiative to crack down on dangerous drivers who are more likely to cause accidents on the UK’s road networks. It would mean that any motorists suspected of being under the influence of an illegal or prescribed drug will face up to three roadside, saliva-based drugs tests.
According to Fleet News, if a positive reading is returned, they will then be given a blood test to determine the level and type of drug present. However, a recent poll by the website indicates that a third of fleets don’t have a drug-driving policy in place and have no intention to introduce one.
The road safety charity Brake has welcomed the government’s zero-tolerance plans which are due to come into force next year.
Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive at Brake, said: “Brake is very pleased to see the government proposing zero tolerance limits for illegal drugs and driving, which would send a clear message that drug driving at any level won’t be tolerated.
“Brake has campaigned for many years for the law on drug driving to be improved, to enable more deadly drug drivers to be caught and prosecuted before they cause destruction.”
A review in 2010 into the current drink and driving law by Sir Peter North found that there was “a significant drug-driving problem” with an estimated 200 drug-driving-related deaths a year in Great Britain. This forced the government to make drug-driving illegal in April this year.
The government has named eight drugs which will come under the zero-tolerance umbrella; cannabis, MDMA (ecstasy), cocaine, ketamine, benzoylecgonine, methamphetamine, LSD and heroin.
However, in addition to these illegal substances, the government plans to set limits for controlled drugs which are often used for medical conditions such as diazepam and methadone.
It’s estimated that a zero tolerance approach will result in 9,000 drivers being prosecuted each year.
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