We read a lot about driverless cars and on-board computers which give us warnings of potential dangers, all which contribute to road safety. Volvo have recently announced their commitment to produce cars which have speed limitations, saying that they are confident that their customers will not be put off by speed restrictions, which will apply to European motorways.
Over the past decade or more, there is a focus on making our roads and vehicles safer – and it has worked, but to a point.
Injury accident figures have shown a recent increase and mobile technology and drivers using roads whilst under the influence of substances are part of this problem, which is going against the tide of safety.
I don`t need to write a lot about technology, since this is something that people across all walks of life must take responsibility for, but we all see so many people using phones whilst driving.
Despite the fines increasing for driving whilst using a mobile phone, the problem persists. This is largely down to there being too few police officers available to enforce the law. This is compounded by the reduction in roads policing officers (Traffic Police).
Government road safety advertising, promoting the awareness and dangers, together with self-responsibilty are what will reduce this growing problem and road users need to be more sensible.
Drink driving campaigns and high-profile police operations, such as operation Holly, will focus the minds and prosecute those who still drive whilst under the influence of alcohol. Generally, the campaigns work and all drivers know the risks and the consequences of losing your driving licence, or worse, being prosecuted for causing a serious injury or death as a result of your actions.
There are still voices who keep the pressure on Government to increase the penalties for causing serious injury or death whilst under the influence of any substance.
For those readers of Everest Times who live in Rushmoor, you may recall the tragic deaths of two college students along Queens Avenue, Farnborough, two and a half years ago, when they were knocked down when crossing the road at a designated pelican crossing point when the traffic lights were red.
These girls had been training at a running club which meets along this road and they were killed by a driver who was over the alcohol limit, driving too fast and had not seen the red light or people in the road – he received a six year prison sentence, of which he may only serve half of this. You will no doubt have your view on this.
Drivers using illegal or prescribed drugs has been hard to prove in the past, however, technology has improved and the laws introduced in 2015 to deal with certain illegal and prescribed drugs are being used to a greater effect, making it more difficult for drivers to avoid prosecution.
The ability for police officers to conduct roadside tests with swipes to establish what drug someone has taken, which then creates the power to arrest to conduct further tests back at a police station, create more parity with drink drive investigations and drivers are becoming more aware of the success of the new legislation and tests, which will help to deter those who otherwise felt quite protected.
Illegal drugs are not permitted at all, of course, however, there are drivers who are prescribed medication, therefore will have a defence, so the laws cater sensibly for this and will focus on the amounts people have taken, where comparisons will be made against the amounts of prescription drugs they can take. The manner of their driving will also be a factor.
A list of the illegal and prescribed drugs for which the law currently applies are below:
The 16 drugs with set limits
- Clonazepam (treats seizures and panic disorders)
- Diazepam (anti-anxiety)
- Flunitrazepam (insomnia). Also known as Rohypnol and sometimes called the “date-rape drug” because of its sedating properties
- Lorazepam (anti-anxiety)
- Methadone (heroin substitute)
- Morphine (pain relief)
- Oxazepam (anti-anxiety)
- Temazepam (insomnia)
- Cocaine (plus a metabolite that stays in the bloodstream for longer)
- Crystal meth
Our roads cannot be made safer by simply relying on manufacturers technology. Until substance misuse and the use of mobile phones and other devices which cause distractions are better dealt with there will remain a risk to road safety and the figures increasing.