§ Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove
asked Her Majesty's Government:
Whether they will announce the latest available figures from the survey the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions is conducting into the incidence of drugs in fatal road accident victims. [HL539]
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Baroness Hayman):
The survey, over a three-year period, started in October 1996. A copy of the department's report on the interim results, to 7 January 1998, has today been placed in the Library.
It is too early to draw firm conclusions from the findings, although general trends so far remain very consistent. Fuller results will be needed before the Government can consider and propose any measures that may appear to be necessary. Further findings will be published when we can reach a firm view.
Screening devices which may be suitable for detecting the presence of drugs in motorists are to be trialled by four police forces for a short period from mid-March. The trials are intended to establish whether the screening devices are sufficiently robust and practical for the conditions likely to be encountered at the roadside—not to test for the presence of drugs.
Traffic police from the Cleveland, Lancashire, Strathclyde and Sussex forces will ask motorists to volunteer to be tested—the police have no power to require anyone to undertake such a screening test. Volunteers' names or their car registrations will not be recorded. Police will not test those who are obviously impaired through alcohol or drugs—they will be dealt with using existing powers.