All professional drivers, which include drivers of trucks, passenger buses and commercial vehicles should be tested mandatorily for drug use. This was proposed during the first stakeholder meeting of RSTA Rules and Regulation 2017.
“RSTA is committed to protecting the safety, health and well being of the public from the adverse effects of drugs and alcohol and after consultation with its stakeholders like Ministry of Information and Communication (MOIC), Traffic Police, Ministry of Works and Human Settlement and Thimphu thromde, RSTA recommended mandatory drug and alcohol testing for all vehicle operator who are required to maintain a motor vehicle operator’s liscence to perform their work,” said RSTA’s Karma Pemba.
“Drivers are subject to unannounced random drug and alcohol testing, and sometimes drivers are subject to drug and alcohol testing whenever they are reasonably suspected of using a prohibited drug or of misusing alcohol. Drivers who want to make a new driving liscence or renew a licence are also subject to drug testing.”
Director General of RSTA, Pemba Wangchuk said roadside drug testing should be the chief means used to deter drug driving. Although roadside drug testing would run along similar lines to the more established method of random breath testing, it is considerably more expensive for a number of reasons.
“Safe driving requires good judgment and sharp concentration. You also need to react quickly to changing situations on the road. Drug driving puts everyone on the road at risk. Research shows that the presence of illegal drugs is involved in the same number of fatal crashes as drink driving. Anyone tested positive shall be penalized according to the penal code of the kingdom of Bhutan,” he said.
Illegal drugs can be detected in urine for a significant time after drug use, even if one feels okay to drive. The length of time that illegal drugs can be detected depends on the amount taken, frequency of use of the drug and other factors that vary between individuals, according to RSTA.
Similarly RSTA propose changing fines for violating traffic rules and many others like ownership of vehicle and compensation during the time of death and permanent impairment.