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Page last updated at 06:13 GMT, Friday, 12 June 2009 07:13 UK
Drug-driving crackdown 'needed'
By Dan Whitworth
Newsbeat reporter in Bristol

Man blowing into police breathalyser
80,000 drivers failed a breath test around the UK last year

The government is being "ridiculously slow" in tackling the problem of drug-driving, according to road safety campaign group Brake.

The organisation thinks the message about how dangerous it can be still isn't getting through to drivers.

Brake says it's worried that the longer it takes the government to act, the more lives will be put at risk.

The government says it's working hard to clamp down on drug-driving with a report due out at the end of the year.

Although it's not scientific, police officers can use a field impairment test (FIT) to check whether motorists are safe behind the wheel.

Drivers have to do things such as walk in a straight line and count out 30 seconds in their head.

But in 2007 fewer than 600 drivers were arrested using the FIT test, compared to nearly 80,000 drunk-drivers arrested for failing a breathalyser.

Proving impairment

Sarah Fatica's from road safety charity Brake. She said: "The message about drug-driving simply isn't getting through.

"The government is moving ridiculously slowly when it comes to drug driving."

It's thought one in five of the 3,000 people who die on the roads each year have illegal drugs in their system.

But at the moment it's not breaking the law to have drugs in your system when you're driving.

Northern Ireland drug-driving campaign poster
A drug-driving campaign is taking place in Northern Ireland

Instead police have to prove drugs have impaired your ability to drive.

Sarah says something must change: "The police need to be supported when it comes to catching drug-drivers rather than have one hand tied behind their back."

The government says it is working hard to stop drug-driving and is due to publish a report about how best to tackle it by the end of the year.

But even if it recommends the law should be changed, that could still take years.

As for scientific drug testing kits, despite other European countries already using them, the government says more tests are needed before officers can use them here.

But Vicky, 27 and from Bristol, thinks that's part of the problem too.

She said: "All the campaigns that the police do are about drink-driving, not about drug-driving.

"I don't think there are enough tests out there to prove that people are taking drugs and I think that's why people do it."



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