CAIRO: Some 24 drivers in Giza governorate tested positive in random drug tests administered in August, the head of media center at Giza Traffic Department Ayman Abdel Kader told The Cairo Post Monday.
Traffic authorities have observed a decline in the number of positive tests, after a tough amended traffic law took in effect in 2014, according to Abdel Kader.
Last year, 11 students burned to death in a crash, which an involved truck driver who tested positive for hashish. As a result, the government harshened penalties to imprison drivers found under the influence of drugs.
The new amendment stipulates that any driver would be punished by at least one year imprisonment if found under the influence of drug, and his punishment might reach three years in prison if he caused an accident resulting in casualaties.
“Near-daily campaigns, escorted with doctors assigned by the Ministry of Health, have conducted random urine tests on drivers,” Kader added.
A 2014 national survey by the Anti-Addiction Fund indicated that 24 percent of Egyptian drivers preform their work under the influence of drugs.
Detected improvements after law
A recent drug-test on 1,200 truck drivers, June and July, resulted in 13 percent positive indications, Mahmoud Saleh, a researcher at the Anti-Addiction Fund, told The Cairo Post.
“This is very a good improvement, and the law has helped to reduce the phenomenon,” said Saleh.
He added that “there are many drivers who stopped driving because they could not quit drugs.”
An Egyptian bus driver made headlines last year after he avoided a drug-test by using his wife’s urine, but his ruse was uncovered as the urine revealed his wife was pregnant.
“Some 50 percent of the examined drivers tested positive for drugs after the law entered into force, but now the number declined to around 25 percent,” Kader said.
He noted that approximately most of the positive tests were by truck drivers.
Ahmed Fawzy was a truck driver before he changed to driving a taxi. “I knew some of my colleagues who abuse different kinds of drugs. Most of drivers who test positive for drugs work in trucks and microbuses,” Fawzy told The Cairo Post.
Fawzy quoted some of his colleagues as saying, “drugs make us alert and give us power to bear the long road.” He continued “They are deluded; [drugs] might give them this feeling in the beginning, but it definitely has a negative impact on their health in the long run.”
Yousri el-Roubi, an expert in traffic, rescue and rapid intervention in accidents in the Middle East, told The Cairo Post that educating drivers about the dangers of drugs is the best way to encounter the phenomenon, rather than “solely harshening the punishment.”
During the past academic year 2014-2015, some 1,400 school bus drivers were examined, and 7 percent of them tested positive for heroin.
The Ministry of Solidarity is aiming to examine a total of 4,000 school bus drivers across the country this academic year 2015-2016.