Call For Drug Testing Scottish Drivers

17 March 2017, 09:13 | Updated: 17 March 2017, 09:15

Smoking Driver

A road safety charity is calling on the Scottish Government to introduce a zero-tolerance policy for ''dangerous and potentially deadly'' drug-driving.

Brake said drug-driving is a major problem, hampering driver reaction time and encouraging dangerous behaviours that put the individual and other road users at risk.

In 2014, Scotland led the way by introducing a lower limit for drink-driving than the rest of the UK, at 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood compared to 80mg.

Brake said it believes it is now time to take the next step to safe and sober drivers by introducing a similar drug-driving law.

As the SNP opens its annual spring conference, Brake is urging ministers to follow the example in England and Wales where in 2015 a zero-tolerance drug-driving ban was introduced, making it an offence to drive after taking certain controlled drugs, both illicit and some prescription-only substances.

Since the ban was introduced, drug-driving arrests have soared in police forces across England and Wales.

Between March 2015 and April 2016, almost 8,000 people were arrested for the offence and the number of convictions for careless driving under the influence of drugs also rose from 1,039 in 2014 to 1,490 in 2015, Brake said.

Gary Rae, campaigns director for Brake, said: ''As the governing party gathers in Aberdeen, I want to send the First Minister a clear message that her Government needs to root out dangerous and potentially deadly driving by introducing a drug-driving law.

''There's evidence that the law is working in the other nations of the UK and will work in Scotland.''

The latest available UK figures, from 2015, show 62 fatal crashes were a result of impairment by illicit drugs.

In a survey last year by Brake and Direct Line, 7% of respondents admitted driving while under the influence of drugs, with over half doing so on a weekly basis.

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson said: ''The Scottish Government prioritised lowering the drink-driving limit in 2014 as evidence showed such a policy could help save lives. Scotland has long-standing legislation used by Police Scotland, prosecutors and our courts that makes it an offence to drive while being impaired due to drugs.

''We are considering very carefully whether evidence shows that specific drug-driving limits should be introduced in Scotland and this consideration will include evaluation of the evidence of the impact of drug-driving limits that have been introduced in England and Wales.''