22 December 2004

New roadside impairment tests coming into force today have given traffic Police the power to crack down on drug drivers. The tests, designed to determine whether a driver's ability has been compromised by illegal of prescription drugs, have until now been voluntary; drivers refusing to comply now, however, break the law in the same way as someone failing to provide a breath test at the roadside.

The tests are covered by a new code of practice, and were conceived to measure balance, coordination and concentration span. They range from asking a driver to stand on one leg, to touching his finger on his nose, and estimating when 30 seconds has passed. Officers will also measure pupil dilation.

Testing equipment is in the pipeline - the equivalent of a breath test - for introduction next year, but the Department of Transport warns that it will only detect the presence of drugs, and not whether driving ability has been impaired.

A Department for Transport study revealed recently that 18 per cent of drivers who died in road traffic accidents within the last three years had drugs in their system. Sixteen years ago, a comparable figure, based on a random sample of driver fatalities, was just three per cent.

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • First Drive
    21 March 2018
    The new Vantage has been developed as a Porsche 911 beater, and our first taste on UK roads suggests it can live up to that bold claim
  • Nissan Leaf Tekna
    The is the new Nissan Leaf
    First Drive
    21 March 2018
    The new version of the world's best-selling electric car gains a bigger battery and more power. How does it compare to rivals such as the Volkswagen e-Golf?
  • Range Rover p400e
    First Drive
    20 March 2018
    The original luxury SUV is now available as a plug-in hybrid, promising lower emissions and the capacity for silent electric motoring
  • BMW i3s
    Car review
    20 March 2018
    Revised hatchback sets out its range-extended electric stall in a new, sportier tune
  • BMW X2
    This is the new BMW X2
    First Drive
    20 March 2018
    Doesn’t deliver many typical crossover selling points but looks perky, handles keenly and is well capable of winning over your latent cynic