Source: Scotsman 
Pubdate: Sat, 29 Nov 1997


Call For Action To Stave Off 'Road Safety Nightmare' As Drink Blitz Starts 
Frank Urquhart and Karen Mcveigh 

POLICE should be able to stop and test drivers for drug abuse, a senior
officer said yesterday. 

As Scottish police forces launched their Christmas drinkdriving campaign,
Supt Alistair McLuckie, the deputy head of Strathclyde Police traffic
department, said that the increasing abuse of illegal and prescribed drugs
by drivers was a potential road safety nightmare. Special training to
combat the growing menace is needed by both police officers and casualty
surgeons, he said. 

Supt McLuckie, a member of a Home Office think tank on road safety issues,
told a conference on drugs in the workplace that although laws were in
place to deal with people who drove under the influence of drugs, there
were no measures in place for detecting them. 

He said: "What is not there is a structured programme of drugs recognition
training for police officers and for casualty surgeons." 

While the breathalyser had been in operation for 30 years, the technology
was still not available to help police officers identify drugtaking drivers. 

Supt McLuckie said there had been a recent incident in Glasgow in which a
driver was twice stopped and breathalysed because of his erratic driving.
The first test proved negative and the officers had assumed he was simply a
bad driver and issued a warning to the man. 

An hour later he was again stopped by officers in a neighbouring division.
Those officers decided he should not be driving but did not know why. The
man was arrested and subsequent blood tests had shown he had been "high" on

Supt McLuckie declared: "Why have we never related the growth in drug
taking to a potential road safety nightmare? There are now 43,000
registered drug addicts in Britain and another 200,000 known users of
illegal substances. How many of them have access to a car? 

"You are not going to tell me that those 250,000 are not on the road
somewhere behind a ton and a half of motor car." 

Supt McLuckie, however, stressed that the danger caused by drug abuse and
driving was not confined to illegal substances. Legally prescribed drugs
could pose just as serious an impairment problem because of their toxicity. 

At the same conference in Aberdeen yesterday, a leading Scottish
businessman warned captains of industry and commerce that they ignored the
dangers of drugs in the workplace at their peril. 

Andrew Cubie, a former chairman of the CBI in Scotland, said that
Scotland's reputation for poor health was blunting its competitive edge in
competing for inward investment. 

Scotland, he said, was jostling with Finland at the bottom of most of the
recognised league tables in regard to health in Europe, and that was
totally unacceptable. 

Mr Cubie told the King's College conference: "Inward investors, looking to
Scotland, are aware of the fact that Scotland does not have a good health
record. It is a very simple matter. We cannot promote the competitiveness
of Scotland in a global economy if we do not have a competitive and healthy

"That means reducing, in positive ways, absenteeism and accident rates
through proactive initiatives. And a clear drug policy is part of that

Mr Cubie told the conference, organised by Grampian Police and Grampian
Health Promotions, that it was impossible to judge how much drug abuse was
costing Scottish companies or how big a problem it was, but statistics
showed that 65 per cent of all 1825 year olds had used controlled drugs
and indicated that 25 per cent of those who are abusing drugs are holding
down jobs. 

Meanwhile, Scottish forces launched a nationwide blitz on drinkdrivers
yesterday, and welcomed news that the Government is proposing to reduce the
drinkdrive limit to the equivalent of one pint of beer. The new limit
could be law within a year. 

Special flying squads have been sent out to secret checkpoints across the
country, and from now until 5 January, they will be stopping drivers at
random and clamping down on anyone caught over the limit. 

Police from eight Scottish police forces have also set up a special 24hour
freecall hotline, and are urging people to inform on drunkdrivers by
calling 0500 929 999. 

The campaign, aimed at reducing the accidents on Scotland's roads this
winter, has its own Internet site, which will publicise weekly facts and
figures on the results of police efforts to reduce drunk drivers on the

Last year, in Strathclyde alone, 71,000 drivers were stopped and
breathtested. A total of 619 people were found to be over the limit. 

Police are particularly concerned about drivers in their 20s and 30s, who
account for nearly twothirds of drunk drivers. They are also concerned
about repeat offenders, who made up almost 10 per cent of the total last

According to Strathclyde Police, the most persistent drinkdriver is
proving to be male, aged between 2024, and is likely to be driving in
builtup areas between midnight and 2am. 

Last year, 50 road accidents, four resulting in serious injury, involved
drivers who were found to be over the limit.