Brake, a road safety charity and Direct Line conducted a survey of 1,000 drivers, and of those 3% admitted to using drugs before driving over the past twelve months. If replicated amongst the UK’s 30 million motorists this is the equivalent of 900,000 drivers.
Leading UK law firm Accident Advice Helpline said: “The Transport Research Laboratory found that using cannabis delayed reactions by 21% which is a huge amount and other drugs may delay reactions by even longer. There are already so many risks on the road without people adding extra danger by driving whilst under the influence of drugs”.
The survey also found out that more than one in ten people said they had been a passenger in a car without someone who they believed was under the influence of drugs, while a massive 29% admitted that they’d hesitate to intervene if a friend of theirs intended to drive while on drugs while a startling 5% wouldn’t speak out even if their friend was clearly out of control. If you can’t be honest with your friends who can you be honest with?
Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive of Brake said: “Our message to everyone is never to underestimate the effects of illegal drugs on driving”. She also went on to say: “If someone is on drugs, they are not fit to drive, even if they don’t seem obviously impaired. Look out for your friends, and if they think they might be driving on drugs, speak out. You will stop them putting innocent lives in danger, and you may stop them going to jail”.
New drug drive laws will be introduced in March 2014 which will see it become a criminal offence to drive with more than trace amounts of drugs in your system. Motorists who exceed the thresholds will be prosecuted for being ‘over the limit’ in the same way as drink-drivers are as officers will be able to test drivers for cannabis and cocaine at the roadside, while tests for other substances can be carried out at police stations.
The policy will not be a zero limit because some prescribed medication can leave trace effects on the body in the same way illegal drugs can. People who have accidental exposure such as inhaling cannabis smoke in a public place will not be penalised.
An Accident Advice Helpline spokesman said: “Driving under the influence of illegal drugs- much like that of alcohol- compromises someone’s ability to control a vehicle, react quick enough to hazards around them and judge safe distances. We welcome the drug drive law and hope that it will deter people from driving after taking illegal drugs. If this is the case we hope to see a decrease in accidents on the roads.”
Lucy Whitaker, a leading motoring law expert from law firm Rothera Dowson is surprised that figures aren’t higher, she said: “Unfortunately taking certain drugs such as cannabis seems to be just a way of life for some people. That being said, drug-drive cases are relatively few and far between, so we need to be thinking about the number of people that are putting lives at risk and getting away with it”.
Have you been injured in a car accident?
Hopefully the changes will mean a reduction in the amount of road accidents but if you do happen to find yourself in an accident then make sure you pick the right solicitor. Accident Advice Helpline have been helping people get compensation for their no-fault accidents for fourteen years.
Source: The Telegraph