Media statement from Anthony Kildare, IAM RoadSmart CEO:
In March, IAM RoadSmart called on transport ministers and MPs to take the long-overdue steps needed to finally address Britain’s growing drug-driving crisis. This is an issue the government claims has been on its radar since 2011, and yet since 2012, the issue has shown no signs of improving. Collisions and casualties have gone up by over 260 per cent over the last ten years, and convictions are increasing every year, reaching nearly 28,000 in 2021. The impact is devastating, far-reaching, and only getting worse.
Such sobering statistics clearly require urgent action – unfortunately, it appears our calls for drug-driving to be treated as a standalone issue have been overlooked. Our worrying research findings indicate the potential scale of the issue. Indeed, IAM RoadSmart’s survey of over 2,000 motorists discovered that:
- 1-in-10 motorists have driven, or been a passenger in a vehicle where the driver has been under the influence of illegal drugs
- 14 per cent of people would not stop a family member or friend who was planning to drive while under the influence of drugs
- 6 per cent of people would be comfortable with driving while under the influence of drugs
And Britain’s drug-driving issue does not just apply to illegal drugs, but also, perhaps surprisingly, commonly-used prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs such as antihistamines, painkillers and anti-depressants – which can have just as much of a profound impact on a driver’s judgement while behind the wheel. Our research also revealed that:
- 1-in-3 motorists do not know maximum dosages of prescription medication before it will impact their ability to drive
- 1-in-5 rarely, or never, check whether prescription medication will impact their ability to drive
- 1-in-4 drivers are unlikely to avoid driving after taking OTC medications that warn against using heavy machinery, like antihistamines or cold and flu remedies
Despite the government choosing not to take any new actions on this issue, we are determined to continue raising awareness of driving after consuming illegal and prescription drugs. We have already attracted strong engagement with the general public and the media, and now is the time for the government to give it the priority it deserves.
This is why IAM RoadSmart is, again, calling for a meeting with government so we can discuss how we can work together to finally get to grips with this issue. We wish to reiterate our previous calls for:
- An outcome from the government consultation
We have been waiting since last summer for the government to announce the results of its own consultation entitled “Protecting the public from repeat drug-driving offenders” so that we can all work together to help drug offenders tackle their issues.
- Separate rehabilitation schemes
We want drug-driving to be reprioritised as a standalone issue, and we are calling for an in-depth investigation, looking at the underlying issues that lead to the offence – recognising that it is a distinct issue from drink-driving.
- Develop a course
As the UK’s leading independent road safety charity, we want to work with the government and all interested parties to support the development of a rehabilitation option for drug-driving, with a particular focus on illegal substances, that is effective in reducing reoffences.
- Support the prescribing process
We want to work with partners, in government and the health sector, to raise awareness and advise on some of the potential outcomes that prescribed medications can have on a driver’s ability behind the wheel.
Together we can fight the tide and begin to see a decline in drug-driving collisions and casualties on Britain’s roads, before the situation gets any worse.
To find out more about IAM RoadSmart’s drug-driving campaign, visit https://www.iamroadsmart.com/about-us/research-and-policy/drug-driving/.