How should fleets tackle the increase in drug-driving?

  • Drug-driving is believed to account for approximately 200 deaths per year
  • Average results in real-world testing has revealed positive outcomes in 4% of tests
  • Arrests for drug-driving have increased exponentially in recent years
  • Penalties include a criminal record, unlimited fines, prison, an 11-year endorsement
  • Cannabis slows reaction times and distorts perception of time and distance
  • Cocaine makes users over-confident and perform more risky manoeuvres at high speed
  • Ecstasy distorts vision and alters perception of sound and judgement

The truth of the matter is that the use of drugs (both legal and illegal) within a population of fleet drivers cannot be forecast because drug use cuts across all social and demographic elements of society.  So, although the HR and Fleet departments may believe they don’t suffer from the same 4% statistic as the general population, they cannot be sure without screening.

Inevitably, the 4% average figure above will be much higher in certain types of fleets than others and it is also the case that the impairments described above mean that the 40 or more (unidentified) drug-drivers in a fleet of 1000 represent a huge safety risk.

Historically, drug-screening has involved body fluids (saliva, urine or blood), which is a bio-hazard that requires specialist disposal.  For this reason, as well as the ‘lack of surprise’ this type of screening involves, the process has been open to fraud and is rendered less reliable as a result.

So, what can be done?

A good start would be to make sure the fleet safety policy includes a section on drug-driving, which is still surprisingly absent in some policies.  This extra section of the policy must detail why screening is to be done, to whom, by whom, where, how and with what consequences. Indeed, to create a drug-driving policy that fits an organisation culturally and effectively requires specialist advice, driver co-operation and sensitive implementation.

Secondly, the drug-screening process should use a non-invasive method of collection that doesn’t use body fluids.  Technology now provides for this as an effective and reliable solution. Collection should be handled through a broad-based fleet risk management program because the implications of positive results can affect the insurance policy and through the risk assessment phase, can gain context when considered alongside other gathered risk data.

Finally, the consequences of a positive result should be dealt with confidentially and alongside a corrective program.  This supportive approach should be enhanced by introducing counselling and other behaviour-based programs.  The driver should be given every opportunity to cease the use of drugs and must submit to successive testing in order that his/her employment position can remain stable.

Help with drug-driving policies, drug-screening and support for drivers are all available from RVM Assist on 0113 224 8800 or email paulr@rvmassist.co.uk

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