Drug driving kits by 2012
* Drugalysers on the way * Roadside tests coming, too * Drink-driving casualties have fallen...
Kits to test if drivers have been using drugs could be available to police forces by the end of the year.
The kits, dubbed drugalysers, would mean officers no longer have to get a doctor's permission to take a blood test to gather evidence that could be used in court.
Drugalysers within 'months'
Road safety minister Mike Penning has revealed that drugalysers could be installed at every police station by 2012, but that the first test devices could be in use within months.
'It is vital that the police have the tools they need to tackle those who drive while impaired by drugs,' said Penning.
'This selfish minority show a flagrant disregard, not only for their own lives, but for the safety of others and we are determined to tackle this menace.
'That is why we are taking urgent steps to make drug screening technology available as soon as possible.'
Roadside test on the way
The first versions of the kits are expected to be ready in September, and will initially be for use in police stations. The Government has put 300,000 towards designing a device that could be used at the roadside.
Julie Townsend, campaigns director for road safety charity Brake, said: 'The introduction of drugalysers is long-overdue. However, we need to go further than just introducing testing kits in police stations.
'In other countries, screening devices are used at the roadside to catch drug-drivers; we need to be moving urgently towards this type of screening in the UK. We also desperately need to close the loophole on drug-driving by making it an offence to drive with illegal drugs in your body, so police don't have to prove impairment.'
Drink-drive figures fall
Provisional statistics on accidents reported to the police involving drinking and driving in Britain in 2009, show that fatalities have fallen by 5% to 380, from 400 in 2008. It is the first time drink-drive fatalities have fallen below 400 a year.
Seriously injured casualties fell by 9% from 1620 in 2008 to 1480 in 2009; slight casualties resulting from drink-drive accidents fell by 8% from 12,990 in 2008 to 11,990 in 2009.