Graham Evans, MP for Weaver Vale, has been given a national road safety award by the charity Brake and Direct Line Group for his work campaigning for treatment programmes to be used for drug drivers.
Graham launched his campaign earlier this year to tackle the estimated 200 drug driving deaths that occur in Britain annually . As a former police chief constable, Graham had frequently seen individuals engage in repeat offending when dependent on drugs, and recognised that offering treatment helped to reduce this.
Despite the appalling harm drug users can inflict at the wheel, drivers caught under the influence of drugs are not included in current drug treatment schemes. it became clear to Graham that providing treatment to drug drivers would help prevent further tragedies.
Graham introduced the Drug Driving (Assessment of Drug Misuse) Bill on 19 June 2013. It aims to complement the government's new laws on drug driving, due to come into force next year, which will make it an offence to drive with illegal drugs in your system above a prescribed limit. Under Graham's Bill anyone arrested when driving under the influence of a Class A drug would also automatically be required to attend up to two assessments with drug counsellors. This would be used to establish whether they would benefit from treatment or other support, and create a care plan to help prevent repeat offences.
As part of his campaign Graham visited Vale Royal day services in Northwich. He spoke to individuals tackling substance abuse and learned about the support network in Cheshire. He was impressed by the impact these services have in turning around the lives of its patients, and believes its work highlights the importance of introducing the new Bill.
Graham's Bill received an unopposed first reading on 19 June 2013. Unfortunately Graham's bill was blocked at the second reading stage in late October, despite strong cross-party support. Despite this disappointment, Graham's determination has not been affected. He has pledged to continue to work hard to ensure his proposals are taken up by government and included in legislation before the next Parliament, by continuing to discuss with ministers and campaigning through media.
Julie Townsend, Brake deputy chief executive, said: "Brake is pleased to endorse Graham's campaign. Drug driving is a major killer on our roads, causing needless devastation to families and communities, and we must do everything we can tostop people who take this abhorrent risk. Graham has exposed a loophole that means drug drivers are not referred onto assessment and treatment in the same way as other criminals under the influence of drugs. Ensuring offenders have access to the help and support they need is clearly integral to reducing re-offending and preventing further tragedies. We are therefore delighted to recognise Graham's hard work pushing for change on this issue, and will continue to support his efforts until we see a change in the law."
Graham Evans, MP for Weaver Vale, said: "I am delighted to have been nominated a Parliamentarian of the month.I am disappointed that my Private Member's Bill was blocked at the second reading stage. I think that Brake's support shows that this legislation is needed now more than ever. This was not due a conflict in beliefs but a fundamental failure of the Private Members' Bills process itself, which allows certain Members to block sensible and thoughtful Bills from passing due to lack support for their own Bills.
"I am pleased with the cross party support of this Bill and I will be working with the Departments to encourage this legislation to be taken up before 2015 if possible, as well as working with my local paper, the Northwich Guardian, on the Pedal Power campaign encouraging cycling and improving road safety."