ROAPDOL And Securetec Join Hands Against Stoned Driving
Drug Offences Catching Up With Alcohol Ones
14 JUL - Drugged driving is proliferating fast and is quickly closing in on alcohol-related offences, latest ROADPOL pan-European Alcohol and Drugs Operation results show.
The operation took place from 16 to 22 June 2021 with 24-hour Alcohol & Drugs Marathon carried out on the weekend of 19-20 June. During the Marathon in the 14 participating countries about 160.009 drivers were checked. 3.304 drivers were found under the influence of alcohol and 2.107 under the influence of drugs. This way the drugged drivers account to more than 35% of the total amount of drivers under the influence of dangerous substances with part of the explanation due to the operation being carried out on a weekend when recreational drug use increases. Outside the marathon during the week of controls a total of 462459 drivers were checked. 12.250 drivers were under the influence of alcohol and 2.150 under the influence of drugs. Non-motorists were also targeted with a 39-year-old bicyclist caught by Croatian police with 4,11 g/kg of alcohol concentration in his blood.
“It is not possible to indicate in which country the violation percentage was the highest, because the way of checking differs too much and the Covid-19 pandemic has its serious implications as well”, informs ROAPDOL Operational Group Secretary Henk Jansen from the Dutch National Police. He explains that in most cases the control of the use of alcohol or drugs takes place by taking a breath test or a saliva test. In the case of a positive result an extensive breath test or a blood sample must sometimes be taken. “During these investigative acts it is impossible for a police officer to keep 1.5 meters away from a driver. In all forms of breathalyzer tests the driver must blow air through a device after which the air with possibly contaminated aerosols leaves the device and swirls around”, Jansen describes thus explaining why police in a number of European countries have limited alcohol and drug checks since the Covid-19 outbreak. In most cases the police do not carry out non-selective checks and instead, only drivers with suspicious driving behavior are selected for testing.
In the same time different surveys reveal that during the pandemic lockdowns, weed and alcohol consumption increased for most of the users around the world. “Because of the pandemic, more people are driving stoned and drunk, and the risk grows up, that their wrong behaviour ends up in a tragedy”, commented Wilfried Sooth, director of Securetec, a Bavarian-based company, producing the DrugWipe® rapid drug tests, currently used in more than 30 countries on all continents, which is partnering ROADPOL in its fight against intoxicated driving. Regarding virus contamination woes various police forces value the DrugWipe® drug test for its easy, hygienic handling and also for its unique positive readout.
“The police enforcement levels vary significantly in the European countries and are not always linked to the prevalence of drug driving. In France, for example, there is an average of 197 prosecuted drivers for drugged driving per day. At the same time in the same country we estimate an average of 900.000 THC (the principal psychoactive constituent of cannabis) daily consumers¹. This means only few of them are getting tested and the others may stick to their bad habit of drugged driving“, Sooth argues. „That is why together with ROADPOL we want to address the need for higher drug driving enforcement levels. We can increase the deterrent effect of roadside drug testing by common actions and communication. The upcoming 2021 ROAPDOL Safety Days campaign is a wonderful chance for visible roadside testing which can serve to educate the public while also acting as a deterrent“, Sooth elaborated. According to him drivers using drugs should get the message that low detection rates will eventually climb and the partnership between ROADPOL and Securetec is a clear step towards this. The next ROADPOL Alcohol and Drugs Operation is to be conducted later this year in December.
¹OFDT: Drugs, Key Data – 8th edition, June 2019