The latest changes to laws surrounding driving under the influence could potentially catch out drivers. While the obvious illegal drugs such as heroin, cocaine and cannabis are banned under the Department for Transport’s drug driving law, as of August 2015 so are a number of over-the-counter remedies.
Innocuous drugs such as codeine and hay fever medications that can be bought at any pharmacy contain ingredients that can cause drowsiness when taken. The active ingredient causing this is cetirizine hydrochloride. If impairment is shown while driving, and this active ingredient is found in the system, drivers can potentially lose their licence. Given the high pollen levels at this time of year, fleet operators should be aware of the risks of drivers unknowingly taking these medications when driving.
“Drivers and fleet operators should always be mindful of the risks of self-medicating before getting behind the wheel of a vehicle,” said John Hix, Concession Director at FORS, “especially in the light of these recent changes.” He added, “There are a number of healthcare remedies that can cause drowsiness, but drivers should be particularly careful at this time of year when taking medication for hay fever.”
The FORS Standard requires fleets to ‘ensure that driving staff meet driver licence/medical requirements and are not impaired through drink, drugs or fatigue. A procedure shall be in place to require drivers to notify the fleet operator of any fitness issues that may affect their entitlement and ability to drive.’ Following the recent changes, fleets should review these policies and check they are still fit for purpose.
FORS associates such as AlcoDigital and DTec International provide drink and drug testing services at a discount to FORS members. To find out more about the changes to drink and drug driving laws visit: www.gov.uk/drug-driving-law