Drink driving is a pet peave of mine. I think it should be outlawed completely. But FG raise an interesting issue in their latest press release- Driving on Drugs.
Senator Fergal Browne has called on Transport Minister Martin Cullen to introduce roadside drug testing technology which is already in use in Australia after a new survey showed that seven out of ten drivers in Ireland are driving under the influence of legal and illegal drugs.
“The new survey from the Medical Bureau of Road Safety shows that 70% of people stopped by Gardaí for erratic driving are on drugs. These include illegal drugs like cannabis as well as prescription drugs like anti-depressants. I am not shocked by the survey’s results which echo earlier studies in Ireland and overseas showing that drug driving is widespread and likely to be a factor in many accidents.
“Given that drug driving involves such a wide range of substances, it is also very difficult to test for such a wide range of drugs, compared to the simplicity of the alcohol test. That is why this issue needs to be highlighted, as many users of legal prescription drugs will not be aware of the dangers. I therefore welcome proposals by the Road Safety Authority to launch a new strategy to deal with this problem.
“However, Australia has begun using new technology to test for cannabis and amphetamines. Using a saliva swab, the technology is accurate enough to identify possible drug users, and to allow them to be brought in for more accurate testing.
“Given that cannabis is one of the most commonly used drugs, I would urge the Irish Government to immediately consider importing this technology to Ireland. It should also liaise with the UK authorities which are conducting a pilot test on a broad-ranging drug test for drivers.
“Meanwhile, I would urge the Government to open discussions with medical experts and representative bodies about the issue of driving on prescription drugs, in order to determine which drugs are high risk and whether certain levels are acceptable.
“It’s disturbing to think that drug driving has been revealed as a widespread practice, particularly when drink driving has become so unacceptable. I understand the Irish authorities will be conducting toxicology tests on road fatalities over the next few months which will reveal the role played by drugs in fatal accidents. It will be interesting to see what the reports show.”