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Drug driving now more frequent than drink driving, fleets warned

Date: 07 July 2021   |   Author: Sean Keywood

Drug driving is now more common than drink driving, and is often detected among those driving for work, fleet managers have been warned.

Speakers on a webinar organised by road safety charity Brake's Global Fleet Champions campaign said drug driving was an issue in which managers needed to take an active interest.

Ean Lewin, managing director of drug testing and training firm D.Tec International, highlighted statistics showing that across Cumbria, Cleveland, and Gwent police force areas in the run-up to Christmas 2020, incidents of drug driving had been two to three times more common than drink driving.

In addition, he said separate figures from Merseyside showed that 50% of those arrested for drug driving were driving for work or at work.

He said: "That was not targeted, that was just their officers seeing bad driving, stopping the driver and finding drugs.

"I find those figures quite shocking personally, and that's why, I say, we have to highlight the situation we are in now.

"Everybody out there accepts that drink driving is no longer socially acceptable, in fact it is downright dangerous. We have to get the message across that drug driving is just as bad and it is now more prolific."

Lewin added that drug driving appeared to have worsened in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

He said: "We are way beyond the situation of [fleet managers] burying your head in the sand and not looking [for drug driving issues]. 

"The drug problem especially post-Covid is so specific, so damaging and prolific, that you really do need to start looking, find out who your problems are, and a big part of that is education and having a policy on which you base everything. 

"All in all, it's to protect your fleet, to protect your employees, your drivers, and to protect yourselves." 

Lewin described the right approach as being 'policy, educate, deter, then detect', so as to deal with problems proactively before they might arise.

He said: "You must have [a policy], whether it's short or long, it needs to be there. I prefer ones that the employee can read, and understand the consequences - if that happens I'll be found out, detected, go through disciplinary and probably lose my job." 

As for training, Lewin said that programmes on the subject of drug driving needed to involve many different levels of the organisation concerned.

He said: "it's about bringing managers up to understanding what the problems are, [making] directors able to understand why they need to do this and put some resources behind it, and employees so they realise why not to do it in the first place." 

Freight Link Europe partner Lesley O'Brien said managers needed to be able to spot signs of employee drug problems: 

She said: "The real basics for me is being like an antenna. Looking, listening, making sure your management team also know how to look for the vital things. 

"It's great to have policies, but if policies just sit on the shelf it's absolutely no good. It's [about] living those policies, and for me being the eyes and ears, and having an open culture where people dare come forward and talk to you, and not having a blame culture either, [but] looking at the root issues."