HC Deb 28 March 2003 vol 402 cc452-3W
John Mann

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate he has made of the number of accidents caused each year by driving under the influence of drugs. [104590]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth

Studies have shown an increase over recent years in the number of people killed in road accidents who have traces of an illegal drug in their body. Cannabis is by far the most commonly found. Traces of cannabis can, however, remain in the body for up to four weeks, long after it has ceased to have any effect. The extent, nature and duration of impairment in any particular case are not wholly certain. Driving while unfit through drugs, whether legal or not, is an offence under the Road Traffic Act 1988. The police receive training in Drug Recognition Techniques (DRT) and Field Impairment Testing (FIT) that can be carried out at the roadside to enforce this legislation. DRT allow officers more easily to assess impairment by the physical signs. FIT are simple divided attention tests which the police can ask a driver to take to assess his concentration and ability to perform easy tasks which an unimpaired driver should have no difficulty performing. DRT and FIT results better inform a police officer's decision whether to arrest the driver. The Government are committed to making it obligatory for drivers to undertake FIT when required.