Fleet managers have a host of allies to help them improve drivers’ bad habits; from training courses and league tables to discourage heavy footed motorists, through to fuel cards. There are darker issues that fleet managers also contend with such as the fallout from a driver found to be under the influence of alcohol while at the wheel. But one area that has flown high above the radar is drug-driving. That is, until now…

Fleet Managers Face Up To Drug Driving

Drugged At The Steering Wheel

While many of us might think that drug-driving is not a widespread problem, a survey by the Institute of Advanced Motorists found that one in 10 young male drivers admits to having driven under the influence of cannabis; that’s 750,000 motorists. And 370,000 drivers have admitted driving while under the influence of class A drugs such as cocaine. It gets worse – the Transport Research Laboratory has found that drugs play a role in nearly a quarter of all fatal car accidents.

Enter The Law

Such worrying statistics mean a change is essential. Last month, a new drug-driving law was announced in the Queen’s Speech as part of the Crime, Communications and Court Bill. In the past, the police have had to prove that a driver is unfit to drive based on ‘an observation of impairment’. Now, they will be able to arrest an individual immediately thanks to new drugs-detection technology.

On The Spot

A driver pulled over for suspected drug-driving can expect to have a saliva sample taken there and then, analysed immediately by a roadside device that can detect illegal substances. If the results are found to be positive, the police can take the driver back to the station to provide either blood or urine samples.

End Of The Line

The penalties will be as severe as drink-driving; drivers caught red-handed can expect a fine of up to £5,000, a six-month stint as a guest of Her Majesty’s Prison Service and, inevitably, a driving ban. As for a career in driving, it’s time for the employee to hand over those keys and fuel cards for good. Remember, the company might be found partly liable for a serious accident unless it has a clearly audited paper trail that shows it has trained and monitored its company drivers sufficiently. A policy of simply ‘don’t drug and drive’ might not cut it and, in worst-case scenarios, it’s feasible that corporate manslaughter charges could be brought.

The Real Issue: Recreational Or Medical?

It’s no surprise that cocaine, cannabis and their ilk are in the firing line – but the question that will concern responsible company drivers is; what about over-the-counter or prescription drugs? The panel that has been set up to implement the law will be examining the inclusion of such drugs and which ones should end up on the banned list. This could end up being a grey area and it’s one we will be monitoring closely in future.