Warwickshire Road Safety Partnership focusses on drug drivers as numbers increase

police officer breathalysing a male

Warwickshire Road Safety Partnership is taking part in a national NPCC campaign to highlight the dangers and consequences of drug driving to help make our roads safer for all road users.

 

Drug driving is increasing in Warwickshire reflecting the national picture and as well as raising awareness of the issue, police will be targeting those drivers suspected of drug driving. 

 

In Warwickshire in 2019, there were 21 (10 in 2018) road traffic collisions where illegal or medicinal drugs, were cited as a causation factor and 2 fatalities (2 in 2018) showing a 100% increase in the number of collisions where drugs are involved.

 

In Warwickshire, the number of arrests for drug driving is also on the increase. Between April and September 2020, 68 drivers were arrested for drug driving compared to the same period in 2019 when there were 59 arrests. 

 

Nationally the figures are even more stark, showing a strong upward trend in drug driving both in terms of collisions and convictions in all age groups but particularly the under 25 and 30-39 age groups in men and 30-39 age group in women.

 

Inspector Jem Mountford said “Taking drugs is extremely dangerous and will impair your driving skills, as drug drivers can suffer from slower reaction times, erratic and aggressive behaviour, an inability to concentrate properly, nausea, hallucinations, panic attacks, paranoia, tremors or ‘the shakes’, dizziness and fatigue.

 

“This will significantly increase your chances of being involved in a collision, potentially injuring yourself and other innocent road users.  If you are a passenger, think of your own safety and do not get into a car with any driver you think has been taking drugs.

 

“We will be actively looking for drivers we suspect may be behind the wheel whilst under the influence of drugs.  These drivers or riders will be stopped and a roadside swab test conducted.

 

It can take days and weeks before some drugs get out of your system completely, so even occasional users may test positive and be guilty of driving under the influence of drugs.

 

The consequences of drug driving are serious. Those found to be driving under the influence of drugs are likely to face a minimum 1 year driving ban, a fine which can be unlimited, and in more severe cases up to 6 months in prison. They will have a criminal record in addition to the offence staying on the driver’s licence record for 11 years, which can affect your job opportunities, car insurance costs and you may not be able to travel to countries like the USA.  But that’s not all. If found guilty of causing death by dangerous driving under the influence of drugs you could be looking at a prison sentence of up to 14 years.

 

WRSP Chair and Police and Crime Commissioner for Warwickshire Philip Seccombe said “As road users we are all responsible for our actions on the roads and we all need to play our part to help reduce the numbers of people killed and seriously injured on our roads by using the roads safely and legally.  Safer roads would also encourage more people to walk and cycle.

 

“There is no excuse for drug driving as it is illegal.  However officers will be referring suspected drug drivers to support services in Warwickshire for help and support. “

 

Compass provides support for young people up to 25 years old and CGL for adults, both services receive funding from the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner.

 

Officers who stop a drug driver may also be disrupting other criminality as research by Safer Essex Road Partnership has found links between drug drivers and other offences from not wearing a seatbelt and speeding to violent crime and drug offences.

 

The effects of drug driving are far reaching as ‘Driving for Better Business’ discovered in a study of over 500 UK employees who drive for work.  1 in 5 (20%) drove immediately after taking illegal drugs.  Over two thirds (67%) admit to taking illegal drugs and almost a third (30%) have driven feeling drowsy after taking over the counter medicines or sleep remedies. 

 

That’s why it’s not just illegal drugs, Warwickshire Police will be testing drivers for. 

 

Eleven prescribed drugs are potentially illegal for driving and dangerous for working so please speak to your pharmacist to check you are safe to drive and if in doubt do not drive. This includes some painkillers and antidepressants that ‘may cause drowsiness’. It is your responsibility to check whether your medication can affect your driving.  If in doubt do not drive.