Julie Townsend, campaigns director, Brake: It goes without saying that using alcohol and illegal drugs is lethal when behind the wheel. Even in small quantities, they seriously impair driving ability too, often leading to death and injury.
One in six road deaths are caused by drink-drivers and research suggests that just as many may be caused by drug drivers.
Brake’s work to support the families affected means we hear about the terrible pain and devastation that results.
Yet these casualties are preventable and we believe fleets can play a vital role in eliminating them.
A blood alcohol level well under the current UK limit can affect reaction times and lane-keeping and increase risk taking.
The effects of illegal drugs vary, but include slower reactions, poor concentration, sleepiness, confusion, distorted perception and over-confidence.
Companies have a responsibility to ensure their drivers are safe and don’t present these horrifying risks.
Brake research shows at-work drivers are a high-risk group for drink and drug driving.
While 6% of drivers who don’t drive for work admit drinking three or more units of alcohol before driving in the past 12 months, this is true of 14% of people who drive for work.
A third of at-work drivers (33%) admitted driving first thing after having drunk a lot the night before compared to a fifth of other drivers (21%).
All the more reason for companies to have zero tolerance policies towards drink and drug driving and enforce them as part of a comprehensive risk management programme.
Regular drug and alcohol testing, introduced in consultation with employees, identifies problems and reinforces the message that the company takes misuse seriously.
Education is also key to ensuring drivers understand the risks and can follow company policy.
Not having such measures in place could cost the company dearly in insurance costs, downtime and reputational damage and ultimately have unthinkable consequences for staff and the public.