The idea of being stop by police and breathalysed for alcohol consumption is now considered routine, but plans are now underway to use similar technology to check for driving while under the influence of cannabis. This drug can be just as dangerous for anyone who is behind the wheel, so there are some good reasons why such a system should be introduced. There have been cases of false-positives with the alcohol breathalyser but, overall, this tool has worked well at making the roads in the UK much safer.
The Cannabis Spitalyser
The tool that will allow police across the United Kingdom to check for cannabis intoxication could actually be better described as a spitalyser rather than a breathalyser. This is because it works by testing the saliva of those suspected of driving under the influence. This detection device was developed in the US, already being used in that country. The UK government has spent £120,000 to buy a supply of the devices, which will be tested in 11 areas across the country. If this trial turns out to be successful then we can expect to see it rolled out nationwide.
The Need for a Cannabis Breathalyser
There have been many examples of people involved in accidents who appeared to be high but were able to get off being punished because their intoxication was difficult to prove later on. In the past, the police have been powerless to take further action when it was obvious that the person who caused the accident should not have been driving in the first place.
The fact that the law has been seen to be so tough on drink driving and so powerless to deal with cannabis use has been sending the wrong messages. There are plenty of people who actually believe that it is perfectly fine to drive while under the influence of cannabis, maybe even justifying their action by insisting it makes them a better driver. There used to be a similar attitude towards drinking. Up until the seventies, there would have been few people who thought twice about spending the night drinking in a pub and hopping in their car afterwards to drive home. It seems that just warning about the dangers is not enough; there needs to be a strong deterrent to discourage people from doing it.
Danger of Driving Under the Influence of Cannabis
Driving a car while still under the influence of cannabis is a recipe for disaster. This drug dramatically slows down reflexes, meaning that the driver is far less able to respond to problems on the road. There is also the issue of the drug leading to bad decision making, so not only is the person more likely to have accidents, but he or she will also be more likely to take risks that would lead to accidents. There is also the fact that cannabis can lead to a euphoric high, which causes to person to deliberately drive recklessly because he or she feels invincible.
Will the Cannabis Breathalysers Make British Roads Safer?
It will take some time to test the effectiveness of this type of breathalyser. The important thing is making sure that it actually works accurately. If there are too many false positives then support for these devices will diminish. There is a real possibility that introducing the system would have a similar positive effect as the alcohol breathalysers. It would discourage a significant number of people from going on the road while intoxicated, and it will make it easier to catch those who do behave so recklessly.