Drug driving appears to be an increasing issue on our roads.

There were almost 2,500 casualties in relation to drug-driving in 2021, representing a 260% increase since 2012, analysis of data from the Department for Transport (DfT) suggests.

However, it is important to remember that while drug driving has been effectively illegal since 1930 , it only became a modern distinct legally defined issue with the introduction of legislation in 2015.

Nonetheless, the implementation of the law   has witnessed the number of drug-driving convictions increasing year-on-year, reaching 12,500 in 2019.

Addicted to the hit

Almost half (44%) of these crimes are perpetrated by repeat offenders, with many of these cases occurring within one year.

IAM RoadSmart’s analysis also highlights issues around testing protocols. These  require blood samples to be taken by a healthcare practitioner. This has meant that some police officers are resorting to bringing drug-driving suspects to A&E departments to take a sample. Not only does become logistically more difficult for the police, it is also increasing demands on a struggling NHS.

Confused public response

A survey by IAM RoadSmart of over 2,000 motorists found that one-in-10 respondents said that they have driven, or been a passenger in a vehicle, where the driver has been under the influence of illegal drugs.

The survey also discovered that 6% of people would be comfortable driving while under the influence of illegal drugs. Furthermore, 14% of those surveyed stated that they would not stop a family member or friend who was planning to drive while under the influence of drugs.

This is despite IAM RoadSmart’s most recent annual safety culture report showing that motorists consider drink and drug-drivers as one of the biggest risks to their personal safety. It scored higher than issues such as speeding on residential streets, aggressive driving or not wearing a seat belt.

Progress needed

Neil Greig, director of policy and research at IAM RoadSmart, said: “With cases surging and attitudes as they are, Britain’s drug-drive picture is a bleak one.

“IAM RoadSmart has already proposed a smart package of solutions to help address this issue, including: developing a dedicated drug-drive course, prescription reform and for the Government to finally release the outcome of its own drug-driving consultation.

“If these are actioned, we might finally see progress made on this critical road safety issue before more lives are tragically lost.”

IAM RoadSmart recently called on the Government to reform the approach to drug-driving.