04:40am Saturday 19 October 2019

King's expert advises government on drug driving

They were also asked to consider what confirmatory thresholds for these drugs should be set in regulations to improve road safety.

The report, published by the Department for Transport today, outlines the panel’s recommendations.

Dr Kim Wolff said: ‘There is an increasing amount of scientific evidence about the extent of the road safety problem associated with drug-driving, with some indication that drug-driving may be a factor in 200 deaths per year in the general driving population.

‘The panel has focused on the risk of serious or fatal injury when driving under the influence of specific drugs compared to driving having not taken these substances, and investigated the particular drug concentrations in blood. We have scrutinised the available scientific evidence about how each drug affects the general driving population alongside information on thousands of road traffic accident cases and witnessed impairment linked to drug-driving.

‘Based on this data, recommended thresholds have been set at a level above which driving is considered dangerous. We have suggested a dual limit when some drugs are found in combination with alcohol, as evidence suggests this significantly increases the risk of a traffic accident compared to when driving under the influence of low concentrations of a single substance on its own.

‘We are particularly concerned about the need to raise awareness among the general public about the risks associated with drug-driving, especially the elevated risks when psychoactive drugs are consumed with alcohol, and recommend that this is a key road safety issue and should be addressed as a priority.

‘The panel is grateful to have been given the opportunity to collate the drug-driving literature in such a comprehensive way and is satisfied that the strength of the evidence is extremely compelling.

‘The panel recognises the complexity of the report findings and the potential wide-ranging impact of the recommendations on healthcare professionals, the police authorities and the general public, and urges the government to take into consideration the robust evidence we have gathered in relation to the new drug driving legislation.’

The DfT report can be viewed here.

For further information or to interview Dr Wolff, please contact Emma Reynolds, PR Manager (Health) at King’s College London on 0207 848 4334 emma.reynolds@kcl.ac.uk

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