Drug-drivers add to

hospital crisis

Accident and Emergency department

BRITAIN'S decade-long drug-driving epidemic could be adding further pressure to already beleaguered accident and emergency departments across the country, according to the UK's leading road safety charity, IAM RoadSmart.

The charity has analysed Department for Transport statistics to discover that there were almost 2,500 casualties in relation to drug-driving in 2021, an increase of more than 260 per cent since 2012.

The issue has also been felt in the courts, as Criminal Justice System Statistics have disclosed that the number of drug-driving convictions has increased year on year, reaching 12,500 in 2019.

Iam Roadsmart says that nearly half - some 44 per cent - of these crimes are perpetrated by repeat offenders, with many of these cases occurring within one year.

The organisation adds that such troubling trends come amid worrying reports that, due to inefficient testing protocols, which requires blood samples to be taken by a healthcare practitioner, some police officers are resorting to bringing drug-driving suspects to hard-pressed A&E departments to take a sample.

This comes at a time when hospitals are facing record waiting times, placing extra pressure on NHS nurses and doctors.

IAM RoadSmart's survey of 2,028 motorists found that this problem is also set to deepen, with one-in-10 respondents stating 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 six per cent of people would be comfortable driving while under the influence of illegal drugs, and 14 per cent 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.

IAM RoadSmart's most recent annual Safety Culture Report showed that motorists consider drink and drug-drivers as one of the biggest risks to their personal safety - more than other issues such as speeding on residential streets, people driving aggressively or not wearing a seat belt.

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.

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