Government appoints experts to advise on drug driving
The Government is asking a panel of experts to consider the scientific case for a new criminal offence of driving after taking an illegal drug (BBC News).
The panel of scientists and academic experts in the field of drug abuse will provide technical input on the effect of individual drugs, such as cocaine and cannabis, on drivers.
Sir Peter North's independent report in 2009 concluded that the problem of drug-driving was "out of all proportion" to the official figures.
The panel will examine the evidence basis for a new criminal offence, how it could be defined, and whether it is possible to prescribe levels for the point at which different drugs impair a driver's reactions and performance behind the wheel.
It is also expected to look at whether an individual's ability to drive safely could be impaired by the use of prescription or other legally obtained drugs.
Mike Penning, road safety minister, said."We know how important it is to tackle the menace of drug-driving. That is why we are putting together a panel of experts to give us advice on the technical aspects of introducing a new offence of driving with an illegal drug in your body."
The Home Office has trialled new drug screening technology ('drugalysers') for use in police stations but has yet to approve specific devices.
Research conducted last year by Brake, the road safety charity, suggests more than 10% of 17-24 year olds have driven shortly after taking illegal drugs.
Ellen Booth, Brake's senior campaigns officer, said: "We need the government to follow through with its commitment to tackle this problem. For too long the law on drug-driving has been totally inadequate.
"We need a ban on driving with illegal drugs in your system and we need roadside drugalysers. The longer this takes, the more lives will be violently and tragically lost."
Click here to read the full BBC News report.