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Mother of drug driving victim 'just exists' after death

The mother of a young woman killed in a head on collision with a drug driver on a country road near Stirling in 2010, has said she is just "existing" after her daughter Rachael's death.

Janice Ward told ITV's Tonight programme: "I would say instead of living life now you just exist because her future was my future. It's just all been taken from me."

Tonight: Drug driving is on ITV at 7.30pm

Read: Drug driving: The great unknown risk on UK roads

Poll shows 25% of public support 'drug drive limit'

An ITV Index poll by Comres has found that a quarter of Brits support a "drug driving limit" where those driving "over the limit" should be punished, however 50% disagree.

  • 24% agree that similar to current alcohol laws concerning drink-driving there should be a ‘drug driving limit’
  • 50% do not support the idea
  • Those aged 65+ (30%) are the most likely to support the proposal compared with 19% of those aged 25-34
  • 78% say that people caught drug driving should receive the same punishment as people that are caught drink driving
  • Less than one in ten (8%) disagree
  • 61% agree people should be punished if they are caught having taken any amount of recreational drugs, while 18% disagree
  • 88% of those aged 65+ support people who are caught drug driving receiving the same punishment as someone caught drink driving
  • 64% of those aged 18-24 support the idea

Read: Drug-driving: The great unknown risk on UK roads

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Home Office: New drug testing equipment available

The Home Office said they were committed to tackling drug driving and that they had approved a new drug testing equipment.

Responding to an ITV Tonight investigation looking into the risk drug drivers pose within the UK, a spokesperson said:

Drug driving devastates families and ruins lives. The government is committed to making our roads safer for everyone by equipping police so they can tackle those who drive after taking drugs.

We have already approved new drug testing equipment which is available for use at police stations and we aim to approve roadside drug testing devices as soon as possible.

Drug driving exists 'all through society'

There is no such thing as a "typical" drug driver - as those who decide to drug drive can come from "all walks of life", a German police officer told an ITV Tonight investigation.

Bernd Heller from North Rhine-Westphalia Police expressed his surprise that drivers in the UK were not tested for drugs.

In Germany, a country with a much smaller drug problem than the UK, police arrest 30,000 people per year for drug driving, whilst in the UK, the figure is considerably lower.

Read: Drug driving - the great unknown risk on UK roads

ACPO chief: 'We don't know the extent of drug driving'

Chief Constable Suzette Davenport, the ACPO lead for Road Policing who has national responsibility for drug driving, said police simply do not know the extent of the phenomenon.

Speaking to Martin Geissler as part of an Tonight investigation into the risk posed by the crime, she admitted she was worried about the gap in police knowledge on the topic, and said she was pushing for legislation to help officers deal with drug drivers.

Read: Drug driving: The great unknown risk on UK roads

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New device allows police to test drivers' saliva for cannabis

A kit for detecting cannabis is drivers has been approved for use in police stations across the UK, the Home Office has said.

A positive saliva test with the new device means officers will no longer have to call a doctor before asking for a blood sample if they suspect a driver of being on drugs.

The Draeger DrugTest 5000, a kit for detecting cannabis was that approved for use in police stations across the UK
The Draeger DrugTest 5000, a kit for detecting cannabis was that approved for use in police stations across the UK Credit: Gardiner Richardson/PA Wire

The kit is able to detect THC - the active ingredient in cannabis - and future kits may be capable of identifying other substances too.

A total of 644 accidents, and 49 deaths, were caused by drug-drivers using both illegal and medicinal substances according to 2011 figures from the Department for Transport.

More education needed to combat drug driving

The RAC is warning the Government is focusing too much on penalties for drug drivers and not enough on education to prevent it happening. Their survey found:

  • 13% of 17-24 year olds admit driving after taking drugs or being a passenger when the driver had taken drugs.
  • A 50% rise in 25-44 year olds using their smartphones while driving.
  • 44% of drivers felt less safe on the roads.
  • 55% want a lifetime driving ban for anyone caught drink or drug driving.

"The growth of the new breed of motoring offences, like drug-driving and social networking behind the wheel, is highly concerning. The RAC urges Government to reintroduce high-profile campaigns on these issues as soon as possible.

These offences don't yet have the same social taboo that drink-driving now holds,which thanks to years of concerted campaigns has continued to decrease as a problem."

– David Bizley, RAC

Drug driving almost doubled in a year

The number of young people who admit driving after taking drugs has gone up from 5% to 9% in the last year. The RAC survey also found more than 4 in 10 drivers felt less safe on the roads than ever before.

Police check drivers after increase in drug driving offences
Police check drivers after increase in drug driving offences Credit: ITN

The motoring group wants the Government to bring back high profile road safety campaigns, such as those which helped to change attitudes towards drink driving.

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