The Association of Fleet Professionals (AFP) has warned that drug driving is becoming a problem in the fleet industry following the pandemic.

Due to Covid-19, there has been a rise in usage of both prescribed and over-the-counter medications, which could affect the driver’s performance.

AFP chair Paul Hollick said: “The growing problem here is not with recreational drugs but those that have been prescribed by your doctor or even those can be bought freely in any pharmacy and often supermarkets, too. Ironically, they can even be found in service stations.

“There is a relatively long list of medications that are used every day for perfectly legitimate reasons by employees driving cars on business but which contain ingredients that are actually illegal and will increase the chances of being involved in an accident in a similar manner to drink-driving.

“For example, codeine is found in a range of branded and unbranded over-the-counter painkillers but can impair your driving performance by causing drowsiness and, if you are tested for drug-driving by the police, could lead to losing your licence.”

The issue has become more severe following the outbreak of the pandemic because more and more drivers are taking medications to treat immediate or ongoing symptoms of Covid risking their lives and of those on the road, the AFP chair said.

He added that some of the substances were not covered by drug-driving legislation and were technically legal to take while driving but could also pose additional risk.

“This is especially topical during spring and summer because of the widespread use of antihistamines to treat hay fever. NHS guidance specifically says not to drive after taking some of these drugs because of impaired coordination, reaction speed and judgement – but it’s a good bet that there are employees on your fleet who are using them right now.”

AFP suggested that employers should introduce and enforce drug-driving policies to tackle this issue.

They should also issue guidance and create a written policy to increase awareness. Furthermore, fleet managers can send out regular and specific reminders. “Employees need to know that the situation is being taken seriously and that they need to take responsibility for their fitness-to-drive.”