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 hasnt 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 drivers 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 youre driving, dont risk even a drop of alcohol or a drag of a joint or any other illegal drug.
2. Passengers: plan ahead
If you know youll be drinking, plan your journey home - and have a plan B.
3. Everyone: stop deaths, shop drink and drug drivers
Take responsibility for stopping drink and drug driving.
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 dont kill someone but are caught, you could face six months in prison, a one year ban and a £5,000 fine.
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