‘Mr Loophole’ calls for ‘on-the-spot fitness test’ to cut down on accidents
Nick Freeman, who is often referred to as Mr Loophole for successfully defending celebrities on the basis of legal technicalities, says new measures could help reduce accidents but may also lead to other issues. A recent study found that blood tests could be used by police to determine if a person involved in an accident was tired and if fatigue played a role.
The fitness test, which was devised by sleep experts, could be deployed by police to assess a motorist’s physical and mental alertness.
It is hoped this would stop motorists from being tempted to drive when they are tired, which is one of the leading contributing factors to crashes.
Motorists who failed the test could be punished with a ban, or charged with other offences depending on the nature of their driving.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, Mr Freeman added: “We urgently need a way for the police to immediately establish at the roadside whether poor or dangerous driving is due to a motorist’s lack of sleep.
“Equally if drivers knew they could be pulled over and instantly tested it could act as a means of deterrent.”
The study, which was conducted by the Australian Government’s Office of Road Safety, found that driving on less than five hours of sleep can be as dangerous as being over the drink-drive limit.
Such a test, Mr Freeman says, is fraught with difficulties since some people can be very alert after little sleep and vice versa – so it is entirely subjective.
He highlighted how the test was also incredibly invasive, expensive and potentially involves complex legal procedures.
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Mr Freeman, who has defended A-list clients including David Beckham, Frank Lampard and Jeremy Clarkson, questioned how the test could be administered if they were afraid of needles.
He added: “What’s more, all it will measure is how much sleep you have had. So it is not fit for purpose.
“Therefore, it should be supplanted by the introduction of bespoke test which assesses a person’s physical and mental fitness to drive and how tired they are.
“If you fail this test this offence should be dealt with in the same way as drink driving.”
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Currently, drivers face three months imprisonment, a fine of up to £2,500 and a possible driving ban if they are deemed to be in charge of a vehicle while above the legal limit or unfit through drink.
This can increase to life imprisonment, an unlimited fine and a ban from driving for at least five years if they cause a serious accident which causes death by careless driving.
The proposed blood test – which is currently being developed in Australia and which will rely on biomarkers in blood will show whether somebody has been awake for 24 hours.
He added: “No laws currently exist in Britain to ban drowsy driving per se. However, the law is there to call to account drivers who make mistakes when they are sleepy as they will be prosecuted according to the consequences of their actions.
“So the charge could be driving without due care or even death by dangerous driving.
“What we don’t have is a robust method for establishing whether a driver who has been pulled over is safe to continue their journey.
“Unlike lorry drivers, there’s no limit for how long a motorist can stay on the road – the law does not compel them to take a break.”
Mr Freeman added that a straightforward test which measures physical capability and mental alertness would be cost effective, far more accurate and very simple to introduce.
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