European Commission has missed opportunity to highlight drug driving, says TISPOL
In its Road Safety Programme 2011-2020, the European Commission sets a new target of cutting deaths on Europe’s roads by a half over the course of 10 years and outlines the initiatives required, covering areas including improved safety measures for trucks and cars, the building of safer roads and better enforcement.
In response, TISPOL has said that it sees the omission of any mention of drugs driving as a serious missed opportunity.
TISPOL president, Javier Sanchez Ferragut, said: 'I am disappointed that the issue of drugs driving is not specifically included as a priority in the programme, as it is a major issue across Europe. As representatives of the enforcement community, we stressed to the European Commission the importance of including drugs driving in its programme, because we know this is a growing cause of death and serious injury on the roads in many European countries.
'It appears the Commission has missed a potentially significant opportunity to highlight the growing safety threat posed by drugs driving.'
TISPOL said that it agrees that the continued enforcement of the three main killers (excessive speed, drink- and drug-driving and not wearing a seatbelt), supported by effective education, is central to a successful long-term casualty reduction strategy.
Mr Sanchez Ferragut said: 'We are pleased that the Commission recognises the importance of enforcement in their new plan. It is due to continued enforcement supported by effective education, particularly of the three main killers (excessive speed, not wearing a seatbelt, drink- and drug-driving), that so much progress has been made in reducing deaths and serious injuries on Europe's roads. However, there are still more than 35,000 people dying each year, and TISPOL believes sustained enforcement of the three main killers is a fundamental part of bringing down this figure by half in the decade to come.'
TISPOL also commented that the European Commission must make a priority of introducing a cross-border enforcement directive to deter those road users who visit other countries and ignore traffic laws because they see themselves as beyond punishment.
Mr Sanchez Ferragut said: 'We welcome the Commission's commitment to prioritise the adoption of legally binding measures on the cross-border exchange of information in the field of road safety, to allow for the identification and sanctioning of foreign offenders for seatbelts, speed, alcohol and traffic light offences. We have long recognised this topic as a priority, to deter those road users who visit other countries and ignore traffic laws because they see themselves as beyond punishment. We know that effective cross-border enforcement will make a significant contribution to saving lives on Europe's roads.'
On the area of national enforcement, he added: 'Enforcement is a key measure and it has been proved beyond doubt that effective enforcement saves lives, especially when it supports an effective education campaign. TISPOL will use its extensive experience to support and encourage countries across Europe achieve the objectives set out in the plan.'
Mr Sanchez Ferragut also said that TISPOL welcomes the emphasis on training, education and enforcement. He commented: 'We have always argued it is not enough to train someone to pass a driving test but they must be trained to handle situations they will encounter, including driving on high speed roads and also at night.'