Transport Secretary to tackle ‘social taboo’ to protect public

Drug addicts could be required to attend rehabilitation courses before being allowed to drive again, under new plans to tackle this underappreciated social problem.

Drink-driving deaths and injuries are now very rare on UK roads, with fatalities falling by 88% between 1979 and 2015. However, there has been an increase in drug-related driving offences, with more than 12,000 convicted in 2019 and 44% committed. by repeat offenders.

713 people were seriously injured in drug-related crashes in 2020, up from 499 in 2016, and some police forces arrest more drug drivers than drunk drivers. That’s why the government is taking action to protect the public and make driving under the influence of drugs a “social taboo” like drinking and driving.

Currently, those convicted of driving under the influence are given a driving ban, jail term or fine by the courts, but are not required to take rehab classes before resuming driving. , unlike drunk drivers. In a call for evidence, the government asks whether drug drivers should also undergo drug rehab, which would help better protect the public.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: ‘Drink-driving is now rightly considered a social taboo by most of us in this country and we have worked hard to reduce alcohol-related deaths. Drunk Driving.

“But if we want to make our roads even safer, there is no room for laxity when it comes to driving under the influence of drugs, which is why today I launched this call for evidence .

“It’s normal for drug drivers to go through drug rehabilitation before getting back behind the wheel, helping to protect the public from this hidden problem and eradicating driving under the influence of drugs for good.”

Statistics show that non-participants in drinking and driving rehabilitation classes are more than twice as likely to commit a new drinking and driving offense within three years. Therefore, by providing the same support to high-risk drug offenders, the government hopes to reduce the number of repeat offenders.

RAC Roads Policy Officer Nicholas Lyes said: “Drug driving ruins lives and threatens the safety of all road users. We welcome proposals to offer rehabilitation courses to drug-using offenders, in the same way that those caught intoxicated are offered to them, as evidence shows this helps reduce recidivism and improves road safety .

Professor Kim Wolff, MBE, King’s College London, said:

“I was delighted to see the launch of the consultation on a High Risk Offender (HRO) Program for Drug Drivers and the Drug Driving Rehabilitation (DDR) Course, in part of an ongoing work program undertaken by the DfT to improve road safety.

“The data collected over the last 6 years has enabled the DfT to identify, through a panel of experts, very high risk drug driving behaviors justifying the need for a program for high-risk offenders, which deployed alongside DDR will help improve driver behaviors as well as provide broader societal benefits.

Today’s call for papers will also ask whether we should align the way specimens are collected with current medical practice using vacuum blood extraction, thereby reducing the risk of blood-borne viruses for healthcare professionals. health.

It will also solicit views on the relationship between medicinal cannabis and road safety, in another move to ensure road safety policy stays up to date with changing societal norms.

This is the first of several measures taken by the government this year to reduce the problem of drunk driving and drugs. Later this year, the government will seek advice on other drink-driving and drug-related issues, such as failure to stop after a collision and criminal use of vehicles.

This follows the continued success of the THINK! Campaign that has been educating drivers about the dangers of drink-driving since 2000.

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