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Friday, August 6, 2010

Tackling Drug Driving

The road is a dangerous place, in the blink of an eye peoples' lives are changed forever because individuals decide that they can get behind the wheel intoxicated. Alcohol and drugs permeate the streets of America, and it is next to impossible for any law enforcement agency to police everyone. Drunk drivers make the news more than drugged drivers because there has never been a quick and easy way to determine whether or not a driver is high on something. Drugs use is much harder to detect mostly because drugs generally do not have a strong odor like alcohol; the typical ways an officer determines whether or not someone is drunk do not transfer over to drugs. Everyday people get pulled over intoxicated and are let go because there is no fast and accurate field sobriety drug test.

Testing for drugs is much more complicated than testing for alcohol and it is very difficult distinguishing between the different side effects exhibited. "In recent years, police have seen more drivers under the influence of cocaine, which causes them to feel overconfident and to drive aggressively. Ecstasy, meanwhile, can cause blurred vision and poor judgment, while depressant drugs, like diazepam, can lead to slow reactions and an inability to maintain concentration. Legal, prescription medications can also have a negative impact on driving, and combining several drugs or mixing them with alcohol complicates their effects". Drivers suspected of being on drugs first go to a police station, tested for drugs, and then a doctor has to examine the test to confirm its accuracy. While all that is taking place the drugs in the suspects system are leaving, making it very hard to determine the levels of a particular drug in the blood stream.

Now, countries are working on finding ways to remove the doctor from the equation. In the UK law enforcement officials are developing saliva and sweat tests that police officers could use either on the roadside or in the station. There would no longer be a need for a doctor which will make keeping the streets safe easier. The Institute of Advanced Motorists has been working for ten years to create a machine that is compact and could test for the entire battery of drugs out there. Until they develop something viable, police forces should use tests that are already in existence and do not need a doctor; those tests may be expensive but they will ultimately save lives.

Kevin Delaney, from (IAM), says: "Unlike alcohol, which is just one drug, the number and range of drugs that can impair somebody's driving is almost incalculable, and actually designing a piece of machinery that will deal with all of them is going to prove extremely difficult".

Source: BBC

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