Road Safety News

Drug-drive figures lead to new campaign

Wednesday 8th November 2017

Kent County Council has launched a new campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of driving while under the influence of drugs.

The ‘hard-hitting’ campaign, which highlights how it is impossible to predict how a drug will affect your driving, has been developed on the back of figures which show that drug driving has led to an increase in serious injuries on the county’s roads.

The campaign film features a young woman behaving as a ‘puppet’ to the drugs she has taken, showing her getting behind the wheel and the life-changing consequences.

The campaign is running throughout November on TV, radio, Spotify, YouTube, digital screens, in pubs and universities and across social media.

The data, published by Kent County Council’s Road Safety Team, shows some motorists are ‘still putting people’s lives at risk by getting behind the wheel while under the influence of illegal substances’.

During 2016, 59 incidents on Kent’s roads were as a result of drugs - including 16 serious injuries and three deaths. Moreover, there have been more than 100 drug-drive related crashes in Kent over the past two years.

Vicky Harvey, road safety team leader at Kent County Council, said: “Drug drivers can suffer from blurred vision, erratic and aggressive behaviour, nausea, hallucinations, panic attacks, paranoia, shakes, dizziness and fatigue.

“In such a condition, it is a very bad idea to be behind the wheel of a car, for you, your passengers and other people on the roads or pavements.

“Taking drugs will impair your ability to drive – our message is don’t let drugs take the driving seat; they affect your ability to concentrate, to react in an emergency and to perceive accurately what’s going on around you.”

Chief inspector Richard Smeed, Kent Police, added: “Getting a drug-driving conviction could cost you your driving licence, and perhaps even your job and your home, but worse still you could be responsible for causing someone serious injury or death.

“Motorists who do this need to know that drugs stay in the system for longer than alcohol, and often for more than 24 hours.

“It’s illegal, it’s reckless and it’s wrong. It’s as simple as that.”

Category: Drug-driving.



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If someone crashes whilst impaired due to the influence of drugs (or alcohol) Charles, I don't think it matters how many others didn't. Some activities and behaviours are obviously highly risky in themselves, without us needing to do any research or comparisons - common sense works just as well. Common sense tells us that a solo expedition to the North Pole by someone dressed in casual summer clothes with a thermos flask, packed lunch and a handy A-Z of the Arctic ice-cap, is obviously highly risky and foolish and one would not need to do any research or comparisons to prove that.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (2) | Disagree (0)

Nick, I've never seen any research that compares the proportion of crashes involving drivers over the drug-drive limit with the proportion of *all* drivers over the drug-drive limit. Without that, I don't see how we can know whether drivers over the drug limit are more likely, or less likely, to be involved in a crash than drivers on, or below, the drug limit.
Charles, England

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Charles, it is probably correct that not all drivers or pedestrians who are under the influence of drugs will be involved in a collision. However, is there not sufficient research which shows that such road users are more likely to be involved in a collision? There will no doubt be statistics and information in reported road casualties GB publications giving proportions of fatal crashes having drugs involved? Will try to find time to look at them but pretty sure that drugs will be involved in a significant proportion of such cases. I have heard people saying that they drive more safely when they know they are around the alcohol limit as they don't want to get caught or even to make up for the fact that their driving ability might be impaired. Best, I think, to reduce the numbers driving whilst impaired to as low a number as possible rather than hope they really concentrate.
Nick, Lancashire

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I'm generally sceptical about contributory factors as given in Police accident reports myself, Charles, however just as it may be obvious to the Police and witnesses that a vehicle driver is drunk and incapable, I presume it it must be just as obvious when someone is under the influence of drugs and their behaviour has been adversely affected, to cause a collision.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

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Hugh, you completely missed my point. I'm not doubting that those reported as having consumed drugs have actually consumed drugs. I'm just wondering how significant that drug consumption was with respect to changing their chances of causing in a crash. So what I'm saying is that we need to know what the background level of drug consumption is amongst all drivers first. Then if, say, we found that 10% of all drivers were above the drug limit, whilst 20% of all crashes were caused by a driver over the drug limit, we could postulate that drug-drive drivers are twice as likely to cause a crash. On the other hand if 40% of all drivers were over the limit, then we might say that they are half as likely to cause a crash. From the data given, we have no idea what the significance of being over the drug limit was.

Note too my choice of the verb "cause". Because it isn't good enough to say that if an involved driver was over the limit then drugs were a factor. The drug-drive driver might not have influenced the occurrence of the crash at all. We need to be precise and scientific. We can't afford to waste resources on prejudice-based assumptions rather than evidence-based facts.
Charles, England

Agree (5) | Disagree (1)

Possibly Charles, officers attending a crash scene noticed that the driver responsible was under the influence of something which would have affected his/her driving and which was discovered to be drugs. Just an inspired guess on my part.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (2) | Disagree (5)

Simple question: how do Kent know that extra casualties were actually *caused* by drug use rather than that more and improved drug tests have revealed that more drivers have been taking drugs? Also, without knowing the general background level of drug taking in the total driving population, how do we know that drug taking drivers are more likely to have crashes than the drug free ones?

It's sounds a bit like saying that 20% of casualty-crashes are caused by cars being white, when all we know is that 20% of cars involved in crashes were white. If we had been more rigorous we might have found out that because 20% of *all* cars are white, we can rule out the colour as the cause. So without seeing the full data, how do we know that Kent aren't barking up the wrong tree?
Charles, England

Agree (6) | Disagree (1)

Rather than relate campaigns to specifically reducing a specific category of consequences like deaths or in this case, serious injuries, could they not simply refer to the general prevention of collisions or crashes? If collisions reduce across the board as a result of a campaign, then so inevitably, will the deaths and injuries reduce.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (3) | Disagree (1)