Drug driving an issue for UK

2nd August 2013

Driving under the influence of illegal drugs or prescription medication can dramatically increase the chances of a collision on the roads and a new survey has revealed the problem is more widespread than first thought.

A Confused.com report has indicated that one-in-five British drivers have taken illegal drugs or been on powerful prescription medication and still got behind the wheel of a vehicle, risking the lives of themselves and other road users.

Cannabis was found to be the most common drug motorists use before or during a journey, cited by 18 per cent of those admitting to the offence, while ten per cent said they had used class A drugs.

Despite the proportion of Brits taking illegal substances and powerful medication while in control of a vehicle, the number of arrests remains low.

Police figures indicate just 1,132 people were caught drug driving in 2012, down 12.5 per cent from the previous year, with Hampshire Constabulary racking up the highest number of arrest with 195.

Gemma Stanbury, head of car insurance at Confused.com said that drug driving is one of the most serious crimes committed by drivers and that it should be addressed to make the UK's roads safer.

She added: "Crashes caused by driving whilst under the influence of drugs are totally avoidable – there are far too many drivers willing to risk the lives of themselves and others by getting behind the wheel after taking a dangerous substance."

Currently roadside 'drugalysers' are used by prosecutors to analyse whether or not a driver is under the influence of cannabis, however the system does not monitor or detect the use of other dangerous substances.

The report also indicated that the general public are keen to punish those caught driving while under the influence of drugs, as 72 per cent of motorists surveyed would back harsher penalties for the offence.

This could be a way of limiting repeat offenders, which was discovered as an issue, with 56 per cent of those caught behind the wheel while impaired by drugs committing the offence twice.