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Random testing could curb drink and drug driving, says Brake

Introducing random testing could reverse rising levels of drink and drug driving on UK roads, bringing an immediate impact on the number of people driving impaired.

Breathalyser being used on motorist

Research indicates that random drug and alcohol testing can cut the number of people driving impaired

So says Brake as it highlights that the majority of drivers would also back such a move.

The organisation’s call comes ahead of the traditional spike in drink and drug driving over the festive period and follows the recent publication of Department for Transport data showing the number of fatal drink-drive casualties in 2017 (the latest year for which figures are available) rose 9% compared to 2016, reaching their highest level since 2009.

Drug driving also appears to be on the increase, with the number of fatal and serious crashes with a contributory factor of “driver/rider impaired by illicit or medicinal drugs” increasing by 8% over the same period, up from 447 to 484 incidents.

In response, Brake is calling for police in England, Wales and Scotland to be given new powers to set up vehicle checkpoints and randomly test drivers for the presence of drink and drugs, following in the footsteps of Northern Ireland; it also points to research showing a visible police presence and the fear of being caught are effective in driving compliance with the law. At present the law in England, Wales and Scotland only permits the police to breathalyse someone, or carry out a roadside drug screening test if they think they’ve been drinking or on drugs, if they have committed a traffic offence, or been involved in a traffic collision.

A survey among 1,000 drivers saw seven in 10 (72%) respondents say they would welcome random drug and alcohol testing by the police with only one in 10 (11%) disagreeing.

Joshua Harris, director of campaigns for Brake, said: “International evidence suggests that random testing can have a positive impact. Drink and drug driving are a blight on our roads and drivers need to expect that if they break the law they will be caught and punished.”

He added: “It’s vital that drivers, and passengers, are aware of the dangers of drink and drug driving, especially ahead of the busy festive season. Whilst we want people to go out and enjoy themselves, drivers must know that getting behind the wheel after drinking can have potentially devastating consequences. Simply put, if you are drinking, don’t drive, and if you must drive, don’t drink.”

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 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. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.