Alcohol and drug awareness should be in driving test, says Swanswell

09 May 2012

Drink and drug awareness education should be included in all new driving theory tests according to a national charity.

Swanswell, a national charity which wants to achieve a society free from problem alcohol and drug use, believes it’s important for people to understand all risks associated with being on the road, including the dangers of driving under the influence.

It comes as the Queen is due to announce government plans today (9 May 2012) to make drug-driving a specific offence with a fine and potential jail term for people caught by police, following roadside testing - mirroring that already carried out for drink-driving.

Debbie Bannigan, Swanswell’s Chief Executive, said: ‘It’s estimated that just under one in six road deaths (17 per cent) were in drink-drive accidents (2009) – it’s a shocking figure that alone highlights the need for better education.

Driving tests check a person’s ability to be competent on the road but they don’t deal with some of the other factors, such as alcohol or drugs, that could influence someone’s ability to achieve that.

Alcohol and drugs affect people in different ways but no matter how small an amount you might have, judgement is affected and the risk of causing serious injury or even death is very real.

People often tell us after attending our Drink Impaired Driver’s programmes that they would never have got behind the wheel after drinking, if they had known the risks – that’s a good enough reason to introduce awareness education in to the theory test.

So while we welcome plans to bring in roadside testing for drug-driving in line with that for testing for alcohol, Swanswell believes there should also be a bigger focus on reducing the risk of it happening in the first place – through better driver education.

Ultimately, the only way you can be sure that you’re not over the legal limit is not to drink alcohol or take drugs if you’re getting behind the wheel. It’s really not worth it.’

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