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Driving test should educate on hazards of drink and drug driving

Learner drivers need to be better educated on the hazards of drink and drug driving – including through a compulsory awareness section in the UK driving test.

Drink-drive casualties are at a four-year high

So say campaigners as latest Department for Transport data finds more than 24% of drink drivers were aged between 16 and 19 years old while overall drink driving casualties are at a four-year high.

Although the current UK driving test was recently updated to include a focus on road user technology, such as reading sat navs, the hazards associated with alcohol and drug driving – including certain prescription drugs – are only touched upon with a few basic questions.

In response, Suzannah Robin, alcohol and drug safety at AlcoDigital, said that drivers may not be aware that driving can be impaired by just one drink.

“The issue isn’t how much alcohol you might consume, but if you have any alcohol in your system at all. Even just one drink means you are three times more likely to cause an incident. The problem is this information isn’t being highlighted or filtering through quickly enough because drink-drive limits aren’t immediately clear, and blood or breath alcohol stipulations are often quite meaningless to the general public. However, what is clear from research is that driving with any alcohol in your system is simply not safe.”

And although roadside drug-driving tests have been carried out in England and Wales since 2015, and will be introduced in Scotland from 2019, Robin said many drivers may also not know that this includes prescription and over-the-counter drugs.

She continued: “My recommendation would be that a compulsory drugs and alcohol session and video – similar to the current speed awareness courses – be introduced that all learner drivers will be required to attend, and will later be questioned on.”

Her comments are backed up by Mike McAdam, founder of the Don’t Be That Someone drink-driving campaign. He said: “Discussing the subject in more detail during driving lessons would certainly help to increase safety and discourage drivers from consuming even just one drink before they get behind the wheel.”

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day.