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Tuesday, 20 February, 2001, 15:57 GMT
Drug-drive warning for clubbers
Cannabis smokers
The authorities are worried by drug driving cases
One in 10 Scots under the age of 40 has driven under the influence of drugs, according to a new study.

And a second report has suggested that most clubbers do not think cannabis has any effect on their driving abilities.

The studies found that drug-driving was widespread among Scottish clubbers, with cannabis the most commonly used drug.

Now First Minister Henry McLeish has sanctioned an education initiative about the dangers of driving under the influence.

Drug test
Drug-drivers could face a prison sentence
He told students at Edinburgh University that it was "startling" that an estimated 50 people had been killed in road accidents in 1999 as a result of drug-taking.

He visited the university's Potterrow student union with transport minister Sarah Boyack following the publication of the two new research projects.

The first study, by System Three Social Research, found that 9% of those questioned had driven under the influence of drugs at some time, with cannabis the most common substance.

It said men and people aged between 20 and 24 were significantly more likely to drive while under the influence.

The second survey, by the Centre for Drug Misuse Research at the University of Glasgow, found that drug-driving was widespread among clubbers.

The police have no powers to stop people for drugs, and the equipment for that has to be very sophisticated

Henry McLeish
It said most believed that cannabis had no effect on their driving abilities, and that many had little knowledge of the law.

Nearly 20% of those killed in road accidents in the UK showed traces of illegal drugs - a sixfold increase in four years.

If those figures were applied to Scotland, it would give a death toll of 50 during 1999.

Mr McLeish urged the students to consider the consequences of such behaviour and described the statistics as "alarming".

"What is really important is that the police have no powers to stop people for drugs, and the equipment for that has to be very sophisticated," he said.

Further research

Mr McLeish said legislation was a matter for Westminster.

Ms Boyack and the Department of Transport would now be looking at the statistics to see whether further research was required, he said.

"But equally important is whether there should be changes to the legislation so that we start early to address this issue rather than having to continue for years and years without it being shown the importance and urgency it deserves."

He added that it was also important that young people themselves changed their attitudes towards drug driving.

A drug-driving offence carries a minimum 12-month disqualification period, with the possibility of a 5,000 fine and a six-month prison sentence.

See also:

13 Oct 00 | UK
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01 Apr 99 | Health
03 Aug 00 | UK
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