Drug driving crashes on the rise

Published Wednesday, 03 April 2013
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Fatal crashes in Northern Ireland involving drugs have risen by more than one fifth since 1999.

Drug driving crashes on the rise
Prescription and illegal drugs were found in fatal crash victims. (© Getty)

Almost a quarter of all dead drivers and riders analysed in the last three years had drugs in their bodies.

That is an increase of 21%, figures released by the Department Of Environment show.

A panel of experts have called for more information about the risks of taking drugs and driving.

Panel chair Dr Kim Wolff said: "We are particularly concerned about the need to raise awareness among the general public about the risks associated with drug-driving, especially the elevated risks when psychoactive drugs are consumed with alcohol, and recommend that this is a key road safety issue and should be addressed as a priority."

A DoE campaign described drugs driving as "widespread throughout Northern Ireland".

The panel also recommended blood samples should be collected at all crashes and examined a universal list of substances. A similar system is used in Norway.

"This system would facilitate the evaluation of drug prevalence from a road safety perspective and provide much-needed evidence of the consequences of driving," the report said.

The safety of long-distance drivers who may not be aware of the effects of some drugs should be highlighted, and the report also said clubbing or festival event organisers should be further educated.

The research said special attention should be paid to the risks by healthcare professionals to those aged over 65 who are prescribed opiods.

"Laboratories engaged in forensic work should be encouraged to screen routinely for a wider range of illicit drugs so as to establish a more accurate picture of the type of substance prevalent in those suspected of driving under the influence of drugs," the panel's report said.

© UTV News
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3 Comments
Darryl Bickler in UK wrote (601 days ago):
"Almost a quarter of all dead drivers and riders analysed in the last three years had drugs in their bodies." This statistic is meaningless on its own, we need to know what is meant by "drugs", and at what levels are these findings correlate with actual impairment. Before legisaltion is made it would sensibly need to consider how this approach can settle an infinite multitude of variables of poly drug use, experience etc etc. It cannot - the whole concept is wrong. If there was some kind of training program in an arcade game style for motorists to try driving under the influence of their favourite tipples it would be perfect. They are right alcohol is the main culprit as contrary to popular belief it doesn't mix well with hardly anything else. It is about education of drivers to make sensible choices about when they are fit to drive, by reference to tests that the driver themselves experiences, it has to be about the driver. What the focus ought to be on is not the presence of drugs, but an assessment of impairment that can be used by law enforcement and for training the public to be drug aware. The panel should not refer to "illicit" drugs, no such category of substances is known in law.
Phil in Belfast wrote (603 days ago):
There is a big difference between finding drugs in someones system and them being under the influence.
norman.d in bangor wrote (603 days ago):
this country has lost the war against drugs its on the increase and becoming away of life with some people i have seen drugs being given to school children outside my last house we have become to soft even prisons drugs are available under the noses of prison staff
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