More Drugs Than Drink on UK Roads

News Article | February 2021

Police perform drug spot check suspect at night

More Drugs Than Drink - What Can The Industry Do To Make Roads Safer?

Current guidance on drug driving is either unavailable or woefully outdated when compared with the current degree of drug use.

This means the advice is no longer fit for purpose, so what steps can industry bodies and corporate entities take to deter employees from drug driving and ultimately reduce fatalities and serious injuries on our roads?

Earlier this month, D.tec International Ltd Managing Director, Ean Lewin shared his thoughts on the sharp rise of drug-related driving offences being committed on UK roads and what the industry can do to bring this problem under control.

D.tec International currently supply roadside drug screening kits to all 44 police forces throughout England, Scotland and Wales. As a result, we are all too aware of the shocking scale of our countries problem with Drug driving

Ean Lewin Managing Director, D.tec International Ltd

Since the introduction of Section 5a of The Road Traffic Act back in March 2015 we have watched as annual drug drive arrest figures have surged. We are shocked as the statistics ramp up year on year to 40 to 50 times more than pre s5a, with a shocking crescendo taking place during festive periods and clamp downs.

You might think things would have slowed down this year given the fact we are in the middle of a third national lockdown. Sadly, this is not the case, it appears those choosing to drive are taking even more risks that ever before. Essex saw 2 ½ to 3 times more drug arrests then drink offences during the first lockdown.

In 2019 Merseyside police arrested over 2000 drivers on drug driving offences, which is significant. Terrifyingly, over 50% of those arrested were at work, driving, or drove for work in some way.

The defacto body for reference across Europe, the ECMDDA reports that the UK is the highest consumer of illegal drugs in Europe.

Police perform drug test on young suspect

Government funded research shows one in eight employees under the age of 35 have admitted to smoking cannabis whilst one in fourteen of all employees have too.

Our society is struggling to get this problem under control, so it stands to reason that businesses will be affected through no fault of their own and are not immune to the problem.

So what can the industry do to make our roads safer?

The vast majority of businesses responsibly prioritise employee safety above all else.

Fleet operators are now spending hundreds of thousands of pounds on installing telematics to improve fuel efficiency, monitor vehicle performance and track driver behaviours. But is that truly adequate to ensure the person behind the wheel of your physical asset is fit to do their job safely?

A risk assessment or fit to drive self-declaration is not nearly enough, which employee is going to admit to being unfit to drive when their livelihood depends on it? Most importantly drug users do not understand the impact that the cannabis they had the night before continues to have on their reaction times for maybe up to a week later; or the cocaine they took on Saturday is causing them to drive more erratically come Monday morning.

With this in mind we ask that industry does better; for the sake of their own businesses, their employees and the wider public. Whether for Corporate Social Responsibility, employee welfare, or to prevent directors and managers being prosecuted under Corporate Manslaughter etc. Act with significant personal fines and potential prison sentences.

Managers should be clear of one thing, a plead to the judge of ‘naivety due to lack of knowledge' is not an excuse to turn a blind eye and will not help you personally when eventually at trial some 2 or 3 years after the incident.

D.tec recommend directors and managers work to a four-part framework to make a real effective change and ensure buy in across their business.

  • Policy: Develop a policy that is fair and unambiguous. Setting clear expectations e.g Zero Tolerance.
  • Educate: Seek to educate your team on the effect of illegal drugs on themselves, their colleagues and the public.
  • Deter: Position reminders in break out spaces and importantly work to a random screening procedure.
  • Detect: This should always be the final piece of the puzzle. When all other steps have been followed, businesses should screen for Drugs and Alcohol, using a kit that is non-intrusive and respectful of employee dignity. If the detection levels are too high, e.g. 1 to 5 employees test positive then it should direct the focus of the employer to do more work on the first 3 parts of the framework.

A regular programme of training on the dangers of driving whilst under the influence of drugs and alcohol can be a very effective deterrent, especially when coupled with pre-employment, random and with cause drug and alcohol testing procedures.

TTC Group’s partnership with D.tec International

In March 2020, TTC Group announced that they had joined forces with D.tec International to provide a full spectrum service aimed at reducing fleet operating costs by minimising work-related driver incidents caused by drink, or more commonly, drugs.

The partnership with D.tec has enabled TTC Group to extend its full range of risk management services to its customers where there is a need to develop robust drug and alcohol policies, whilst also providing a non-intrusive, dignified and accurate drug screening and breath alcohol measuring solution.

Effective drug screening is one of a comprehensive range of products and services offered to customers over and above its TTC Continuum, risk management platform.

Securetec Drugwipe 3S in packaging Police Issue

Andy Wheeler, Technical Delivery Director at TTC Group (pictured alongside Ean Lewin, Managing Director, D.tec International), commented: “Evidence from recent police drink and drug drive campaigns shows that drug driving arrests in many forces are overtaking those for alcohol. Many drivers do not appreciate the impact and risks of not only having a more severe collision, but that failing the roadside drug screening test will mean a loss of licence and even imprisonment."

“Most drivers are aware of drink driving, however there is a real lack of knowledge and appreciation of drug driving, either through recreational or prescribed drug use, at both employee and managerial level. Drivers and businesses must have effective policies and training in place to deal with this growing risk."

“Working with D.tec allows us to utilise our core strengths to deal with the increase in drug driving collisions and convictions, either through our behavioural change workshops or with policy guidance, training and screening devices.”

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