Drug driving “surge” slips under the radar

12.00 | 11 February 2014 |

A “surge” in driving while under the influence of drugs during the 2013 festive period went largely unnoticed, according to ScreenSafe, a leading provider of drug and alcohol testing services.

Quoting ACPO figures, ScreenSafe says that during December 2013, 28% of those tested failed the Field Impairment Test (FIT) assessment, in comparison to 21% over the same period in 2012 – a rise of nearly a third. ScreenSafe also points out that in 2011 the figure was 16.85%, which means that in two years the proportion of drivers failing the FIT has risen by 75%.

In December 2013, police carried out 513 FITs and arrested 143 people, almost double the 77 arrests in the equivalent period the year before, when 360 FITs were carried out.

Matt Taylor, managing director of ScreenSafe, said: “Most reports focussed on drink driving but ignored this surge in driving under the influence of drugs.

“We need to be cautious in that these figures are based on a small population of just 500 tests, as the police have to rely on a judgmental assessment and are not yet allowed to use the equipment other countries employ to test drivers by the roadside. 

“Nevertheless the results are a significant increase in just one year. It reflects what many safety organisations have been saying over the last few years, that the message about the risks of drug-driving is just not getting through.”


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