CCTV to curb laughing gas driving

CCTV 2 camera

We are supported by IAMRoadsmart and the local metropolitan police, to step up the battle against those driving dangerously under the influence of Nitrous Oxide, also known as ‘laughing gas.’

Our CCTV will be used to identify dangerous driving, council enforcement staff will tip off the police about where the driving is taking place, and those who are repeatedly responsible could have their cars seized and sent that day to the car pound.

The move follows the launch of ‘No Laughing Matter,’ the borough’s partnership campaign to tackle some of the problems caused by nitrous oxide, including littering, anti-social behaviour and dangerous driving by people under the influence of the drug.

John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets said:“Our residents have told us they are concerned about people driving dangerously under the influence of Nitrous Oxide, but because it is a gas, the police are powerless to test those who take it as they would do with other drugs or alcohol.  People driving while high on laughing gas are a danger to themselves as well as every other road user.

“Although selling the drug for recreational use is illegal under the Psychoactive Substances Act, it is still far too easy to purchase nitrous oxide online and in shops. Councils are having to clear up the mess and keep their residents safe, and the government should look at ways to strengthen the police and council’s hand in dealing with this problem.” 

IAMRoadsmart’s Director of Policy Neil Greig said: “If nitrous oxide is inhaled while driving, the user has little control over the strength of the dose – it could just lead to euphoria, or to brief unconsciousness.  Either way, a driver’s attention to the road will be completely distracted for the 10 seconds or so of the ‘rush’ and 10 seconds is a long time while driving - the driver is effectively unconscious for over 130 metres or almost 150 yards.  Driving under the influence of nitrous oxide, however briefly, is as dangerous and anti-social as driving while drunk.”

A moderate dose of nitrous oxide can make people relaxed, calm and happy.  Slightly more can induce dizziness, inability to concentrate and uncontrollable giggles. The effect overall is very similar to being quite drunk; certainly well over the legal drink-drive limit. A stronger dose still can make the user unconscious, albeit briefly if the dose is not sustained. As a drug, it is now illegal under the Psychoactive Substances Act of 2016.

To report someone driving dangerously, contact the police on 101.

Posted on Tuesday 22nd August 2017