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Road Safety - Drugged drivers menace

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    Road Safety - Drugged drivers menace

    Drugged drivers issue has at last been raised. Willgardai might get some tools to combat a real menace on our roads? Let's hope we see some action on it soon.

    In a recent study in Oz it was found to be a far bigger problem than alcohol. I've seen what looked like some of it here too.

    From d'Indo 2day:

    Drugged drivers menace

    Lives at risk as huge problem masked by near total lack of checks

    THOUSANDS of drugged-up drivers are getting away with putting peoples lives in danger, it was revealed yesterday.

    Breath tests can only pick up on the level of alcohol in a driver's blood stream.

    According to the Medical Bureau of Road Safety 13,000 drivers were breathalysed for alcohol in 2005, but fewer than 800 specimens were tested for the presence of drugs, allowing numerous other intoxicants to go unnoticed.

    During a meeting with the Dail committee for Transport yesterday Director of the Medical Bureau, Professor Denis Cusack, told the committee that one-third of the blood and urine samples taken from drivers who were under the legal limit for alcohol, tested positive for one or more other drugs.

    And one-sixth of all drivers who were over the limit for alcohol were also under the influence of other intoxicants.

    Prof Cusack told the committee that of an additional 800 blood specimens taken from drivers tested by the Bureau for drugs in 2005, almost 500 were positive on screening and 424 were confirmed as positive for the presence of drugs other than alcohol.

    "It is important to recognise that drug impaired driving is an increasing, real and significant problem," said Mr Cusack.

    "This is a world-wide problem and it is estimated that the number of people driving under the influence of drugs may be anywhere from 50pc upwards of the numbers driving under the influence of alcohol.

    "Despite the fact that in Ireland alcohol remains the biggest problem as the drug causing intoxication and impaired driving we must look at ways to tackle the problem before it increases."

    However, Mr Cusack pointed out that different types of drugs have very different effects on the human body and on the person's ability to drive.

    "There is also the issue of licit versus illicit use of drugs and how legislation governing road safety should approach the differentiation between them if appropriate," Mr Cusack said.

    "Generally there is an emerging consensus that a rational approach would be a zero tolerance for illicit drugs and an impairment test to be continued for the presence of therapeutic drugs taken on prescription," he added.

    The committee ordered a breakdown of statistics on drug-driving prosecutions from Garda Commissioner Noel Conroy.

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