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The Dangers of Drug Driving

September 1, 2014

We regularly speak out about the dangers of drink driving and this cause is also regularly covered in the media but what about drugs? Brake, the road safety charity have a hard line on drugs, in exactly the same way as drink, and at Lamb & Co we are taking a closer look at their latest research. Working with Direct Line, Brake carried out a survey which looked at drivers and their approach to drugs and driving.

The new survey, published at the beginning of the month, found that the equivalent of 1 million drivers in the UK (3%) had driven on drugs within the past year and 11% think they may have been a passenger whilst the driver was under the influence of drugs. 29% also shockingly admitted that they wouldn’t always speak out to stop a friend driving whilst under the influence of drugs.

Drugs Law Change

This new survey has been carried out due to the proposed changes to legislation. From March 2nd 2015 police will be allowed to carry out saliva swabs on the roadside, which will be able to detect up to 16 illicit and prescription drugs which have set official limits for driving. This should provide more accurate roadside testing, from the Field Impairment Test which is currently in place, and it will also be able to detect some drugs up to 5 days after consumption. If substances are found in the saliva then a hospital blood test will follow and drivers will be liable for prosecution.

Impaired driving under the influence of drugs is already an offence but now drugs driving involving these 16 specified substances will be able to be proven more easily and lead to prosecution. The list of substances including MDMA, ketamine and cannabis amongst others. The law has been named Lillian’s Law after 14-year old Lillian Groves, who was killed by a speeding driver on cannabis in June 2010.

Drugs Driving Stats

The survey carried out by Brake and Direct Line found some shocking results, especially amongst young drivers and even more so amongst young male drivers, a group known to be at high risk of accidents. 5% of all survey respondents said they wouldn’t speak out, even if it was clear their driver was out of control. Young people were also found to be the most likely group to have been a passenger with a driver on drugs, with 15% of young males admitting to this.

The risks of taking drugs of any type when driving differ from substance to substance. Cannabis for example slows your reaction time and effects your coordination, putting you and all other road users at risk, Stimulant drugs can distort your driving, lead to over confidence and complacency and many prescription drugs carry drowsiness warnings which can result in serious risk on the roads.

Brake’s Not a drop, Not a Drag Campaign is gathering speed with more government interest and also raising awareness amongst the community. As a personal injury company who work regularly with the victims of road traffic accidents, we have seen every kind of case you can imagine and believe anything that can limit the risks on our roads is a positive.