Why drug-driving testing technology will make our roads safer

A new piece of equipment to test for the presence of drugs in a driver’s blood has been approved for police use, the Home Office has announced.

The machine will be used in police stations and has been dubbed the ‘drugalyser’. The technology uses a mouth swab from alleged offenders to test for signs of cannabis.

Its introduction should be seen as a real positive for motorists the across the UK. Not only does it mean a doctor doesn’t have to be called to take a blood sample, wasting valuable police time and potentially letting an offender off the hook, it also means the roads are freer of drivers under the influence of illegal substances.

This road safety benefit is what drove the introduction of the new technology and is considered the real benefit of its rollout. As policing and criminal justice minister Damian Green puts it, “Those who take drugs and go out on the roads are a menace to pedestrians, other motorists and themselves.”

With up to six months jail time, a maximum £5,000 fine and an automatic driving ban of 12 months posed as punishment – similar to the penalties for drink-driving – and more advanced and faster ways of testing for positive results, maybe those motorists who’d risk getting behind the wheel after taking drugs will think twice?

It’s great for the future, too. Hertfordshire-based company Draeger – the outfit that manufacturers the testing kits – believes the new technology is leading the way for products than can highlight the presence of a wider range of illegal substances at the roadside.

Soon, testing for drug-driving will be as easy as it is for drink-driving.

And with super-sophisticated breathalysers now meaning the 20-minute sobering-up time for drivers is to be eradicated, there’s even less place for unruly motorists to hide, making the roads safer for the majority of law abiding drivers.