Random alcohol and drugs tests ‘can have positive impact’ – Brake

12.56 | 10 December 2019 | | 3 comments

Police officers in England, Wales and Scotland should be given new powers to set up vehicle checkpoints and randomly test drivers for alcohol and drugs, it has been argued.

Road safety charity Brake says random testing – which was introduced in Northern Ireland in 2016 – would help curb the increasing number of drink and drug driving related deaths on UK roads.

Brake points to research which suggests a visible police presence, combined with the fear of being caught, is an effective method of improving compliance among drivers.

It also says there is public support for the move – citing the findings of a survey carried out in partnership with Direct Line. 

A majority of those surveyed (72%) ‘agree or strongly agree’ with the introduction of random testing – while 11% ‘disagree or strongly disagree’.

Brake says the introduction of random testing could have an ‘immediate impact’ on the number of people driving impaired.

Joshua Harris, director of campaigns for Brake, said: “It’s shocking to see drink and drug driving increasing on our roads, causing untold devastation to families across the country every day. 

“We need urgent action by the next Government to tackle this worrying trend and we call for new police powers to set up vehicle checkpoints to carry out random alcohol and drug tests on the roads. 

“As our research shows, drivers fully support this move and 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.”

Figures published by the DfT in August show that between 230 and 270 people were killed in collisions where at least one driver was over the drink-drive limit in 2017 – leading the DfT to produce a central estimate of 250 deaths.

The final estimate for 2017 is higher than in 2016 – when there were 230 drink-drive fatalities – although the DfT says the rise is not statistically significant.

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    The police breathalysing drivers as they leave a pub car park, would be a good idea. Word would spread around the pub as well, making drivers think twice. Much easier, than trying to spot them once they’re on the move.

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
    Agree (2) | Disagree (22)

    As a non drinker- (out of choice not that I don’t like alcohol) and strong believer that you should not be in charge of a vehicle after consuming any level of alcohol as any impairs decision making and reactions to events, I defend the infringement of liberties and nanny state interference that random testing does. The extra cost of implementing such a program will not reap any rewards and is misdirected use of resources. If the Police have suspicion that someone in under the influence or other reason then they already have the power to stop someone. Most people who fail tests are significantly impaired leaving tail tail signs in their driving that raises concern. There has to be some redress regarding the disparity between Scotland and England/ Wales, but the limits should be based on science not politics or being in line with the EU. There is a level below which the impairment is less likely to be an issue (I know this sounds contradictory), compared with eg. sub standard driving, making calls, eating food, operating the radio, talking to passengers, being in a daze, tail gating, using a tesla car in auto pilot…etc.I don’t know what that figure should be. Education and good practice has a more lasting benefit.

    Tim Brine, Birmingham
    Agree (29) | Disagree (0)

    I am not against changing the law to allow random stops, preferably at “intelligence led” probable hot spots. However the Police already ‘get around’ the current legal limitation by running road safety campaigns during which random stops or blanket stops/tests already happen. (and generally with good public support). So I’m not sure that it would make as much of a difference as Brake would have us believe.

    Pat, Wales
    Agree (13) | Disagree (0)

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