Subtitle: Preventive measures involve measures and activities of state and other institutions and bodies towards prevention of negative social occurrences as well as the related consequences. The basic factors determining traffic safety are the human being, the vehicle and the roads, hence the measures for preventive actions must be aimed towards these three. One of the reasons for endangering traffic safety is driving under the effects of psychotropic substances. In order to decrease the number of traffic accidents related to this issue, several preventive measures have been introduced by the legislators of this country.
A “psychotropic substance” is any substance of natural or artificial origin, registered on the list of psychotropic substances pursuant to the international conventions on control of opioid drugs and/or pursuant to a decision issued by a competent body (Law on Control of Opioid Drugs and Psychotropic Substances http://zdravstvo.gov.mk/zakon-za-kontrola-na-opojni-drogi-i-psihotropni-supstancii/). Opioid drugs also encompass psychotropic substances scheduled on the list of psychotropic substances, unless mentioned specifically. There is a list of opioid drugs and psychotropic substances where these are clearly distinguished (https://malmed.gov.mk/wp-content/uploads/2.8-Listi-za-klasifikacija-na-supstancii- opojni-drogi_Sl_vesnik-br.112-od-2009.pdf). All substances, including alcohol, sedatives and drugs have negative effects on the psychosomatic abilities of the body according to our legal classification, and consequently on the safety while driving a motor vehicle under their effects. Drivers under drug effects have different consciousness, behaviour, attention disorders and disruptions of other psychophysical functions or reactions, as a result of which they fail to react in accordance with the acquired driving skills and exhibit reactions inadequate for the situation in question, which can lead to a traffic accident with fatal consequences. Alcohol use remains to be the primary negative cause endangering the life of traffic participants, however the number of drivers driving under the effects of other psychotropic substances is also increasing. According to the statistics issued by the Ministry of Interior for 2017, as many as 300 traffic accidents were caused under the influence of alcohol, with 155 of them having a fatal outcome. (https://mvr.gov.mk/analiza/soobrakjaj/56).
Prevention towards ensuring traffic safety
Prevention towards ensuring traffic safety encompasses all measures that would decrease or in some other manner lead to a quantitative and qualitative reduction of traffic accidents and feeling unsafe among citizens by either directly averting them from such activities or with the adoption of policies and interventions aiming to decrease traffic accidents and the causes. Traffic offences, according to our legislation, are a specific form of a misdemeanour and criminal offence, closely related with traffic urbanization and development. These offences, depending on the type, can cause various social consequences, while the high mortality rate, destruction of goods and serious health consequences with permanent disability are particularly significant. Some psychoactive substances, such as ecstasy and synthetic drugs can cause hyperactivity among drivers, which could have devastating consequences on traffic. An analysis conducted among randomly chosen respondents indicates that 2% of the drivers tested with saliva sample collection were under the effects of some type of medication. The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Control (EMCDDA) cautioned to the information that drivers from EU countries are increasingly using drugs or a medication affecting the ability to drive and urged the EU to address this issue by adopting special traffic safety policies for psychotropic substance use, recommending prohibition against driving under their effects. (Report of the EMCDDA, 2012).
Psychotropic substance use and traffic safety
The reasons and effects of drug use are different and have a social background, i.e. should be understood from the perspective of a broader social context. All individuals driving under the effects of a psychotropic substance fail to react in accordance with the skills acquired, exhibit inadequate reactions to a given situation, fail to critically perceive the situation they are in, lack adequate critical judgment for participating in traffic, demonstrate bad psychophysical characteristics, disordered coordination and reaction time, assess distance incorrectly, have disordered perception of their sight and hearing, lack proper orientation in time and space, which all together increases the risks while driving. Our legislation has a clear standpoint on the issue of drugs and driving a motor vehicle under drugs, prohibiting any types or amounts of drugs used while driving a motor vehicle. Frequent police road control is one of the preventive measures against drug use in traffic. Control as a preventive tool has the purpose to maintain the behaviour of traffic participants within the allowed normative frame. According to the 2014-2020 National Drugs Strategy, the issue of traffic safety and drug use is among the challenges the country needs to fight due to the high incidence of traffic casualties and the potential use of psychoactive substances as a risk factor (2014-2020 National Drugs Strategy, http://zdravstvo.gov.mk/wp- content/uploads/2018/03/mkd-strategija-za-opojni-drogi-2014-2020.pdf). In order to overcome this challenge, the country needs to implement several activities on this subject together with the police and the civil sector: preventive public media campaigns for traffic safety and drug use, various lectures within the educational system in order to raise the awareness, particularly among young people, on safe driving and many more. Such campaigns are implemented throughout the world with positive results, like for instance the campaign DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE. The implementation of preventive activities within traffic safety should provide cooperation, coordination and exchange of information among all participants. To this purpose, the role of the police and the Ministry of Interior is crucial in the creation of policies for prevention of such occurrences but also for the implementation of numerous prevention campaigns for raising the public awareness on driving safely without the use of psychoactive substances.
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