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Europe's traffic police chiefs demand zero tolerance on drug-driving

Europe’s traffic police chiefs are calling on governments to update and simplify their drug-driving legislation, or risk a potentially catastrophic rise in road casualties. Addressing their annual conference at Olympia, London, TISPOL president, Wolfgang Blindenbacher, warns that drug-driving would become more and more widespread across Europe without much-needed changes in the law. He urges governments to take bold steps to implement legislation in tune with tough road casualty reduction targets.

“We believe that all European governments must follow the lead of a number of countries and update their laws on drug-driving,” says Blindenbacher, who is deputy chief constable of the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia. “Existing drug-driving legislation does not provide an adequate framework for effective education and enforcement. Countries such as Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Norway, Portugal and Sweden all have zero tolerance of drug-driving. If illicit drugs are found in a driver’s system in those countries, the driver will be prosecuted. There is no requirement to prove impairment. This is simple and effective.

Left: Wolfgang Blindenbacher warns at the annual TISPOL conference in London that drug-driving could become more widespread in Europe without changes to the law

“If governments are serious about making an impact in reducing road deaths and injuries, they must remove the requirement to prove a driver’s impairment through drugs. Driving with any illicit drug present in the system, however small the quantity, must constitute the offence in its own right. We have seen the benefits this clear and unequivocal legislation has brought in countries that have introduced it. We know that – if supported by well-researched education programs and robust enforcement – zero tolerance of drug-driving will make a difference and will save lives. We urge all European governments to set a simple level for illicit drugs in a driver’s system. That level should be zero.”
 

October 6, 2009

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