Drug and drink driving facts you can't ignore
09:53 25 November 2009
Recent research has discovered that drink is actually more harmful to both society and individuals than drugs.
A study carried out by the controversial Professor David Nutt found that because alcohol is so widely used, it is in essence more dangerous than drugs such as cannabis and cocaine.
Some of the major incidents involving drink and drugs is related to driving accidents and with winter nights about to set in, it is even more important that drivers take note of the key facts when taking to the road.
One in five (21%) drivers aged 17-18 admits driving on drink or drugs, and these younger drivers are far more likely to think there is no chance of being caught when they do so.
However, even small amounts of alcohol affect steering reaction times. It's also impossible to tell exactly how much is in your body.
If you drive at twice the legal alcohol limit, you are at least 30 times more likely to cause a road crash than a driver who hasnÂ’t been drinking.
One in six deaths on British roads are caused by drink drivers and research has suggested that just as many may be caused by drug drivers.
While the statistics on drink driving have widely been published, take a look at some of the lesser known drug driving facts:
Illegal drugs affect a driverÂ’s behaviour and body reactions in unpredictable ways, including: slower reaction times, poor concentration, sleepiness/fatigue, confused thinking, distorted perception and over-confidence.
Drugs can stay in your system for months and are likely to show up on police tests.
How different drugs affect your driving:
Cannabis: Slow reaction times and difficulty multitasking simple actions like changing gear and steering straight. Combining cannabis with alcohol magnifies its effect. Cannabis strengths vary wildly. Just one cannabis cigarette can affect you for up to four hours.
Ecstasy: Blurred vision and the inability to judge distance or speed. Extreme emotions like anxiety and paranoia may prove to be lethal. The effects of ecstasy can last 12 hours, but the tiredness caused from being up all night can affect you for days afterwards.
Cocaine: Confident but yet dangerously erratic on the roads, making you more likely to take risks.
Speed: Amphetamines make you over-excited, restless and can lead to risk-taking. Strong emotions like fear, panic and aggression may cause dizziness and even passing out behind the wheel. The effects can last more than four hours.
LSD: Hallucinations, delusions, dizziness, nausea, blurred vision, poor control and confused thinking amount to a killer combination.
Heroin: Sluggish reactions, a sleepy body and the inability to control a vehicle. These strong effects can last for 24 hours.
Some legal prescription or over-the counter drugs can also affect your ability to drive safely.
Road safety week has written up three key steps to stop drink and drug driving:
1. Drivers: not a drop; not a drag
If youÂ’re driving, donÂ’t risk even a drop of alcohol or a drag of a joint or any other illegal drug.
- Never drink any amount of alcohol if youÂ’re driving.
- Never drink late at night if youÂ’re driving early the next morning.
- Make sure youÂ’ve got plenty of time to sober up before you next have to drive. If you plan to drive many hours after drinking, count your units and over-estimate how long it will take to sober up.
- The speed at which alcohol is absorbed into your system (and how quickly your system gets rid of it) depends on a variety of factors, including your weight, metabolism, health and when you last ate. So itÂ’s very difficult to predict accurately how long it will take to sober up - always over-estimate.
- Always check that prescription or over-the-counter medication is safe to drive on. Check the label or with your pharmacist or doctor. If youÂ’re on prescription drugs that impair your ability to drive, donÂ’t risk it. If in doubt, donÂ’t drive on medication.
2. Passengers: plan ahead
If you know youÂ’ll be drinking, plan your journey home - and have a Â‘plan BÂ’.
- Know what time the last bus leaves - or keep a taxi number and emergency fare handy.
- If you have a designated driver in your group whoÂ’s promised to stay sober, keep half an eye on them to make sure they stick to the plan.
- If youÂ’re getting picked up, make sure itÂ’s by someone you trust not to have had a drop of alcohol or drag of drugs before they get behind the wheel.
- Never submit to pressure to get into a vehicle with a driver you think is on drink or drugs - they have your life in their hands.
3. Everyone: stop deaths, shop drink and drug drivers
Take responsibility for stopping drink and drug driving.
- Never buy an alcoholic drink or offer drugs to someone you know is driving.
- Tell your employer immediately (and in confidence) if you catch a colleague drink-driving or suspect they may be driving on drugs.
- Talk to your friends and family about the dangers of driving after having even a drop of alcohol, or drag of a joint or other impairing drug.
- And on behalf of the thousands of families across the UK whose lives have been devastated by drink and drug drivers, help prevent more death and injury by shopping anyone who insists on getting behind the wheel after drinking or taking drugs to your local police, or reporting them to Crimestoppers, in confidence, on 0800 555 111.
Should you kill someone after drink or drug driving, you could go to prison for 14 years for the offence of causing death by careless driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
If you donÂ’t kill someone but are caught, you could face six months in prison, a one year ban and a Â£5,000 fine.