Drug tests for road victims drug-tested

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The Independent Online
People killed in road accidents are to be tested for drug abuse in a three-year Department of Transport survey designed to gauge the extent of Britain's growing "drug-driving" problem. Transport officials confirmed yesterday that tests will begin later this year.

The move comes after Scotland's largest police force uncovered evidence of an increase in drug-driving. In a study, Strathclyde police found that more than one in five people who died in road accidents last year had taken illegal drugs. Senior officers are now calling on the Government to introduce legislation to enable police to conduct roadside drug tests.

Toxicologists in Glasgow examined the bodies of 52 crash victims and found that 11 had consumed dangerous levels of illegal drugs. Superintendent Alistair McLuckie, who co-ordinated the Strathclyde study, which is the first of its kind by a British police force, yesterday called on ministers to change the law to enable officers to take roadside saliva or urine samples for analysis. Although it is illegal to drive under the influence of any powerful drugs, police cannot use existing legislation to force motorists to take instant tests which could lead to arrest. There are no government- approved "drugs breathalysers".

A Department of Transport spokesman said the three-year survey of crash victims, which has been planned for several months, would begin in April.