Detecting drug drivers Duncan Price Branch Head Department for Transport
RSGB Conference 2011 Detecting Drug Drivers By: Duncan Price Road User Licensing, Insurance and Safety Department for Transport
North Review of Drink and Drug Driving Law (June 2010) - Drugs Improving the Evidence Improving Procedure The ‘Road Map’ 1.improve the current process 2.preliminary drug screening tests 3.a specific offence 4.roadside screening 5.evidential drug testing
The Evidence Key GB Statistics Impairment by drugs (illicit or medicinal) was reported contributory factor in 2010 in: 1,094 casualties, down by 16% from 2009 51 drivers and pedestrians killed, down by 20 % from 2009 So 1 in 200 of injuries, 1 in 20 deaths? TRL Work 1996-2000 indicated rates in fatalities of 18% (illicit drugs) & 24% (all)
Evidence (European – DRUID) DRUID (DRiving Under the Influence of Drugs, alcohol & medicines) Five Year Cross-European research programme Alcohol vs Other Drugs The prevalence of alcohol in traffic is higher (3.48%) than for illicit drugs (1.90%) or medicinal drugs (1.36%) Consumption of alcohol (> 0.5 ‰) alone or in combination with other drugs causes the highest accident risk compared to other psychoactive substances.
Government Response to North (Drugs) Implementation Priority (March 2011) Current Progress Better information about prevalence of drink and drug driving and its implications in casualty accidents Tender under way for data collection from coroners and procurators Delegate to custody nurses the assessment police doctors make of suspected drug drivers Seeking legislative opportunity to change Road Traffic Act 1988 Approve preliminary drug testing equipment initially for use in police stations – and then at the roadside Police station devices in type approval
‘Road Map’ 1: Improve the Current Process Legislative Changes (Drugs and Drink) –Custody Nurse Assessment of Drug Driving Suspects –Hospital Testing Procedures (Drink and Drugs) –Allow New Testing Technology Portable evidential breath testing for drink Possibly Multiple samples for drugs –Withdrawal of Statutory Option (Drink)
‘Road Map’ 3: A Specific Offence To proceed there must be research / consensus on which common controlled drugs are impairing at which levels Cannabis The second prevalent substance in traffic (after alcohol) Across several experimental studies THC-blood concentration of 2ng/ml causes the same performance impairments as BAC 0.5‰ With 3-5ng/ml THC in blood the risk for being responsible for an accident is equal to 0.1-0.5‰ BAC Cocaine On-road driving tests, simulator studies and tests of driving related skills showed no impairing effect at low dosage. Impairment is caused by concomitant alcohol consumption or sleep deprivation (not by stimulants alone).
‘Road Map’ 3: A Specific Offence European research about impairing levels of drugs (equivalent to drink drive impairment) Wide ranges of levels and some caution (eg Netherlands) Some plans for a specific offence (eg Norway) Including schedules of drugs and levels
‘Road Map’: 4 and 5 4: Roadside screening devices –establish value without specific offence –builds momentum towards the specific offence 5: Evidential testing –roadside screening /evidential at police station “Le mieux est l'ennemi du bien ” Voltaire (1772)
Local Action Intelligence-led enforcement Wider criminality and public health issues
Road Safety Framework: Education and training MeasureDescriptionAction (e.g. legislation, type approval) Expected Start Date Increased educational offerings to offenders We will increase the educational courses that can be offered in the place of fixed penalty notices to teach safer driving behaviour. We will develop courses by working with the police and the Driving Standards Agency Ongoing Increased educational offerings to offenders We will develop courses that courts can offer in the place of losing a licence We will develop a course2013 Increased educational offerings to offenders This will require offenders to take a course and assessment to regain a licence after a serious disqualification (expected to be 12 months or more) We will develop a suitable course and an assessment 2013 A new post test qualification This will replace Pass Plus and will provide candidates with an improved way to develop their driving skills after passing their driving test. We will work with the Driving Standards Agency and the insurance industry to develop a course that improves the skills of inexperienced drivers. 2014
Road Safety Framework: Planned Legal Changes MeasureDescriptionAction (e.g. legislation, type approval) Expected Start Date Introduce a fixed penalty offence for careless driving This will allow the police to tackle offences that are currently unenforced more efficiently. Parallel measure to increase penalty fines from £60 to £80-£100 Statutory instrument. Impact assessment and internal Government clearance in progress. 2012 Withdrawal of statutory option for drink drivers This will remove the right of drivers who fail an evidential breath test by 40% or less to request a blood or urine test. Legislation to amend the Road Traffic Act. 2013 New drug offenceThis would create an offence of driving with a specified drug in the body. More work needed before decision whether to proceed. This would require new primary legislation 2015 – if it proceeds New dangerous driving offence (not in road safety framework) This will create an offence of causing serious injury by dangerous driving, with higher maximum penalties Government (MoJ-led) amendment to the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill. 2012
Speed Limits Plans to consult about: Motorway speed limits Changing the 40 mph rural road limit for lorries Revision of the speed limit circular (to increase local flexibility, focus on urban areas) Cost/benefit assessment tool for local speed limits for use by local authorities Exemptions from speed limits for emergency services