Motorhome insurance providers will be keen to examine new Government laws concerning drivers who drive with high levels of drugs in their body which are due out next week.
It is no secret that “drug driving” is an escalating problem on UK roads and is believed to be the reason behind many accidents and injuries. A recent report from the Transport Research Laboratory suggested drugs were a contributing factor in about 25% of all fatal road accidents in the UK while 10% of young drivers responding to a Government survey a couple of years ago admitted they had driven while under the influence of illegal drugs. The problem for the police has been prosecuting drivers they suspect of driving with illegal drugs in their body. At the moment police can prosecute a driver over the alcohol limit simply by proving he has above the legal limit of alcohol in his/her body. When it comes to drugs the police not only have to prove the driver has taken illicit drugs but that it has also impaired his driving skills.
At the moment there is no concrete test solution, with police officers using field impairment tasks such as walking the white line test etc. The uncertainty of prosecution in such cases is reflected by figures from last Christmas which show that across the UK over 170,000 motorists, including motorhome drivers, were breathalysed; in the same period just 385 drivers were subjugated to field impairment tests for suspected drug misuse while driving.
The new laws will address this problem with an offence of drug driving, anticipated to be introduced via the Queen’s Speech in Parliament next month. However, this may also spell problems for insurers and law enforcement agencies if there is no stipulation on the drugs that are included in the bill. There is plenty of evidence that drivers using prescribed medication have caused accidents and it is well known that large quantities of certain prescribed drugs can give the desired effect for those wanting to get “high”. At the moment the law has focused on illegal drugs but it is clear the new laws will have to close many loopholes if it is to become a success.