Fleet News

Safety: Ignore drug-driving issue at your peril

Ken Bowling, managing director, Driving Risk Management, looks at the Government guidelines on drug driving.

The Government has recently issued guidelines for the safe use of specific recreational and prescription drugs while driving.

With the police equipped with the means to do accurate roadside tests for drug impairment, we will no doubt begin to see the scale of the drug-driving problem in this country.

You may think that the drug-driving issue isn’t going to affect your fleet, but you’d be wrong.

Research carried out recently by a professional drug and alcohol testing company found that 25% of drivers within a sample group from one company returned a positive test for recreational drugs.

The testing experts admitted that, in the main, they would expect positive samples to be in the order of 5% for a fleet, but it still proves that, as an industry, we have a potential problem on our hands.

There is also the largely overlooked issue of prescription drugs and their potential effect on safe driving behaviour.

When did you last look closely at the small print on that bit of paper stuck at the bottom of the box containing those pills your doctor has just prescribed? In truth, few of us take any notice of the warnings not to drive, or ‘operate machinery’ as it is often still termed, when taking medication.

But over the counter medication can also present a threat. Certain hay fever remedies can cause drowsiness or slow down reaction times, and some cold and flu medication contains 18% alcohol by volume.

According to the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, 13% of drivers have suffered side effects from these types of products. From 2011-2013, 2,676 drivers were prosecuted as a result of being under the influence of cold remedies.

What’s the answer? Give drivers the facts, but don’t create a blame culture or threaten the big stick.

Disagree with them or not, recreational drugs are an aspect of modern life and what people do in their time should be their own affair.

But it becomes your problem the moment your staff bring the effects of their pastimes into work and, in turn, behind the wheel.

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