Charity calls on First Minister to introduce drug drive law

News from Brake

16 March 2017 
news@brake.org.uk

As SNP launches its Spring conference, charity calls for zero-tolerance of drug-driving on Scotland’s roads

Brake, the road safety charity, is calling on the Scottish government to introduce a zero-tolerance policy for drug driving on the nation’s roads.

The call comes as the Scottish National Party opens its annual Spring Conference, in Aberdeen. In 2014, Scotland led the way by introducing a lower limit than the rest of the UK, for drunk-driving (50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood. The rest of the UK retains 80mg limit – higher than all other EU countries except Malta). Brake believes it is now time to take the next step to safe and sober drivers by introducing a similar drug driving law.

Drug driving is a major problem, hampering driver reaction time and encouraging dangerous behaviours that put the individual and other road users at risk.

The latest available UK figures, from 2015, show that 62 fatal crashes were a result of impairment by illicit drugs. In a survey, last year by Brake and Direct Line, 7% of respondents admitted to driving while under the influence of drugs, with over half doing so on a weekly basis.

In 2015, England and Wales introduced a zero tolerance drug driving ban, making it an offence to drive with certain controlled drugs (both illicit and some prescription-only drugs) but this law does not apply to Scotland or Northern Ireland.   

Since the drug driving ban was introduced, drug-driving arrests have soared in police forces across England and Wales. Between March 2015 and April 2016 almost 8,000 people were arrested for the offence and the number of convictions for careless driving under the influence of drugs also rose from 1,039 in 2014 to 1,490 in 2015.

Gary Rae, campaigns director for Brake, said: “As the governing party gathers in Aberdeen, I want to send the First Minister a clear message that her government needs to root out dangerous and potentially deadly driving by introducing a drug-driving law. There’s evidence that the law is working in the other nations of the UK and will work in Scotland.”

ENDS

Notes to editors

Here’s Brake’s ‘fact checker’ on drug-driving at the wheel: http://www.brake.org.uk/info-and-resources/facts-advice-research/road-safety-facts/15-facts-a-resources/facts/482-drug-driving-an-overview

Brake’s advice on drug driving and taking legal medication

It’s not just illegal drugs that make you unsafe to drive. Some medicines, such as strong pain killers and anti-depressants, are extremely dangerous to drive on. Even over-the-counter medicines such as some hay fever medication can impair your driving.

When taking any medicine, always check the label to see if it will affect your ability to drive. If you are unsure, consult your doctor or pharmacist. Never drive if the label or a health professional says your driving might be affected or if you feel drowsy or slow.

If your medication can affect driving, stop driving, not your medication – make arrangements for alternative transport. Or if you need to continue driving, seek alternative medication. 

About Brake

Brake is a national road safety charity, founded in 1995, that exists to stop the needless deaths and serious injuries that happen on roads every day, make streets and communities safer for everyone, and care for families bereaved and injured in road crashes. Brake promotes road safety awareness, safe and sustainable road use, and effective road safety policies. We do this through national campaignscommunity education, services for road safety professionals and employers, and by coordinating the UK's flagship road safety event every November, Road Safety Week. Brake is a national, government-funded provider of support to families and individuals devastated by road death and serious injury, including through a helpline and support packs.

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Road crashes are not accidents; they are devastating and preventable events, not chance mishaps. Calling them accidents undermines work to make roads safer, and can cause insult to families whose lives have been torn apart by needless casualties.