High Risk For Young Drug Drivers

One in five (20 per cent) of young motorists take to the road every day while high on illegal drugs, according to the RAC Foundation and Max Power Magazine - revealing the shocking results of a new survey* today (24th April).

The survey, carried out by Max Power magazine and published in the May edition, found that:-

  • 20% of those surveyed say they "drug drive" every single day
  • 44% regularly drug drive with passengers in their car
  • 59% of those surveyed have driven after smoking marijuana
  • 37% have driven after taking cocaine
  • 67% believe drink driving is worse than drug driving
  • 46% think they are unlikely to get caught drug driving

Drug-driving is a growing problem in the UK. 18% of drivers who died on the roads between 1996 - 2000 had been driving with illegal drugs in their system, compared with just 3% for the period 1985 - 1988. A major road safety campaign in 2005 found that more than one in seven drivers stopped tested positive for drugs - twice the number of those found to have been drinking. Young people are now twice as likely to be driven by someone high on drugs as someone who is over the drink-drive limit.

The RAC Foundation and Max Power are calling on young motorists to face up to the dangers of drug driving. At best, they are risking a heavy fine, a one-year driving ban or 6 months in prison. At worst - a death sentence for the driver or their mates.

Edmund King, executive director of the RAC Foundation said: "Some drivers may think that drug driving gives them a buzz, but the startling increase in the number of young drivers killed on our roads shows that the buzz soon goes flat. Only dopes drug drive and only mugs allow themselves to be driven by dopes."

John Sootheran, editor of Max Power, added: "Driving under the influence of drugs makes drivers’ confidence rocket while their skill and accuracy plummet, making any drug driver a serious hazard to themselves and other road users.

"Catching drug drivers is also extremely difficult - the reality is that police do struggle to enforce the law, and with no approved roadside testing equipment, they have to rely on simple and often unreliable physical assessments."

To understand the gritty reality of "drug driving", the May issue of Max Power includes a feature called "the need for weed" where five young drivers test the effects of different drugs, including alcohol, on a specially devised off-road course. The results were startling.

The driver who took the wheel under the influence of Alcohol gave a shocking description of his experience. He said: "The more I drank the less I cared. After six cans of lager I could barely walk straight, let alone drive straight - I would have been lethal on the road."

In contrast, the Cocaine tester said: "After the first few lines I was on top of the world, I felt invincible, like no one could touch me. On the road I wouldn’t care if I was reckless."

The Marijuana tester ended up driving dangerously slowly. He said: "After about three joints I felt OK to drive but was much more cautious. This feeling grew into full-on paranoia that I was going to hit something."

The driver who tested the effects of Speed said his driving was "faster and more erratic". At the same time he couldn’t stop fidgeting and "just wanted to go faster". The Ecstasy tester said he would be "in a hedge in no time" if he drove on the road under the effects of the drug.

John Sootheran added: "Max Power does not glorify or condone the use of illegal drugs however it does feel it is important and in the public interest to tell its young readers what the likely effects will be should they take drugs and then drive."

28 April 2006 Staff

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