Page last updated at 11:37 GMT, Wednesday, 7 October 2009 12:37 UK

Drivers' drug tests for research

Campaign poster showing the eye how it can look after taking cocaine
The Department of Transport have launched an advertising campaigning warning of the dangers of drug-driving

Roadside tests for drug-driving are to be carried out by North Wales Police as part of a research programme.

The tests will be purely voluntary for drivers, with the results used for statistical purposes only to find out the extent of the problem.

Chief Insp Gary Ashton said: "We intend that this trial will help us build an accurate picture of driving under the influence of illegal drugs."

The announcement was made at a road safety conference, Tispol, in London.

The trial testing programme is expected to be run later this year.

Globally, there is an increasing awareness that drug-driving is a growing yet avoidable cause of deaths and accidents on the roads
Dene Baldwin, Concateno

The Department for Transport recently began a £2.3m advertising campaign, warning young drivers in particular of the dangers.

It said that one in 10 young male drivers admitted drug-driving.

Devices from drug testing company Concateno will be used in the trial, with a test for up to six different drugs in a single oral fluid sample.

It takes around 30 seconds and results will be available within five minutes.

DRUG-DRIVING DANGERS
Cannabis - distorts perception of time and space
Cocaine - causes overconfidence and risk-taking
Amphetamines - impairs coordination and hazard-spotting
Ecstasy - leads to blurred vision and poor judgement

"Globally, there is an increasing awareness that drug-driving is a growing yet avoidable cause of deaths and accidents on the roads," said Dene Baldwin, technical director of Concateno.

"However, policy and enforcement decisions should be made on the basis of a clear understanding of the scale and nature of the problem."

Forces currently have no equivalent to an alcohol breathalyser to test for drugs. They use impairment tests, with positive suspects then being asked to take a blood tests at the police station.



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