With new drug drive legislation coming into effect in England and Wales on 2 March, THINK! is encouraging people who take medicines to check with their pharmacist or doctor if they are in any doubt about whether they are safe to drive.
The new law sets limits at very low levels for eight drugs commonly associated with illegal use, such as cannabis and cocaine.
Eight prescription drugs are also included within the new law: Cloanzepam, Diazepam, Flunitrazepam, Lorazepam, Oxazepam, Temazepam, Methadone and Morphine. However, the limits that have been set for these drugs exceed normal prescribed doses. As such, the vast majority of people can drive as normal, as long as they are taking their medicine in accordance with the advice of a healthcare professional and/or as printed in the accompanying leaflet; and their driving is not impaired.
Working in partnership with pharmacies and NHS providers, THINK! is providing resources free of charge to help advise patients in the run up to the new law coming into effect. Demand for these materials has been significant and already more than 110,000 copies of the leaflet have been distributed via pharmacies and NHS providers.
There will also be a medical defence if a driver has been taking medication as directed and is found to be over the limit, but not impaired. THINK! is advising drivers who are taking prescribed medication at high doses to carry evidence with them, such as prescriptions slips, in order to minimise any inconvenience should they be asked to take a test by the police.
Robert Goodwill MP, road safety minister said: “If you are taking your medicine as directed and your driving is not impaired, then you are not breaking the law and there is no need to worry.
“We advise anyone who is unsure about the effects of their medication or how the new legislation may affect them, to seek the advice of their doctor or pharmacist.”
Professor David Taylor, Royal Pharmaceutical Society spokesperson and member of the Department for Transport advisory panel on drug driving said: "Don’t stop taking your medicines, prescribed or otherwise, if you are worried about this new law.
“Instead, talk to your doctor or pharmacist for information about how your medicines might affect your ability to drive. They’ll be happy to give you the advice you need to stay safe."
A comprehensive THINK! drug drive campaign briefing can be downloaded from the members’ area of this website (members’ homepage under ‘recent additions’) and the campaign resources can be ordered by road safety professionals via the THINK shop.
For more information about the new drug drive law visit the gov.uk website.