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Action needed to tackle drug driving

A recent survey by road safety charity Brake and Direct Line Car Insurance has revealed that one in nine young drivers (11%) has driven after taking illegal drugs in the past year.

The survey also found that 3% of young drivers (age 17-24) said they get behind the wheel after taking drugs once a month or more. Slightly more young drivers are admitting drug driving than four years ago, when one in eleven young drivers (9%) owned up to this potentially deadly behaviour.

Brake is calling for long-needed reform, including:

  • A new law making it an offence to drive while on illegal drugs, to rectify the current loophole. Currently it is only an offence to drive while impaired by drugs, meaning police must prove impairment to prosecute.
  • Approval and roll-out of roadside drug screening devices, so police can test for drugs at the roadside and immediately following a crash.

Drug driving is a widespread menace. In the UK, around 18% of people killed in road crashes have traces of illegal drugs in their blood, with cannabis being the most common. Young drivers are much more likely to take illegal drugs and drive than their older counterparts. Drivers under 25 years old are nearly four times as likely to drive on illegal drugs as older drivers (11% compared to 3%).

Ellen Booth, Brake senior campaigns officer, said: "The risks of driving on drugs are huge, and the consequences devastating – yet a huge proportion of young drivers are taking this appalling gamble with their own and others' lives. We need all drivers to pledge to never mix drugs and driving, and we need the government to follow through with its commitment to tackle this problem."


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