Britain’s Driving Epidemic Putting Pressure On A &E Departments

Britain’s Driving Epidemic Putting Pressure On A &E Departments

By  Charlotte Webster-

Britain’s drug-driving ‘epidemic’ putting pressure on A&E departments, says road safety charity. Road  safety charity, IAM RoadSmart said that Britain’s decade-long drug-driving epidemic could be adding further pressure to already beleaguered A&E departments across the country.

Accident related hospitalisations has traditionally bee associated with drink driving, but a growing body of evidence now reveals that drug driving is also a serious contributory factor to hospitalisations in the Uk,

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Department for Transport statistics analysed by the charity show there were almost 2,500 casualties in relation to drug-driving in 2021, representing a surge of more than 260 per cent since 2012.

IAM RoadSmart said the issue has also been felt in the courts, with Criminal Justice System Statistics disclosing that the number of drug-driving convictions has increased year on year, reaching 12,500 in 2019.

It added: “Worryingly, nearly half (44 per cent) of these crimes are perpetrated by repeat offenders, with many of these cases occurring within one year (‘Drug driving – The tip of an Iceberg?’ – Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety, 2021).

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“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 ten 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 seatbelt.

Neil Greig, director of Policy and Research at IAM RoadSmart, (pictured) 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.”

Neil Greig (@NeilJGreig) / Twitter

director of Policy and Research at IAM RoadSmart: Neil Crieg

Road safety charity Brake says drug-driving is a factor in more than one in 20 fatal crashes in the UK.

It is illegal in England and Wales to drive with drugs in your body — even prescribed by your doctor — if they impair your driving.

The police have a right to pull one over and carry out a ‘field impairment assessment’ if they suspect a driver is under the influence of drugs. The assessment can include physical tests, such as asking you to walk in a straight line, as well as the use of a ‘drugalyser’ to test for some illegal substances.

Anybody convicted of drug driving you could face a criminal record, a minimum 12-month driving ban, an unlimited fine, and up to six months in prison. Your driving licence will also be endorsed with a drug driving conviction, which will last for 11 years.

Drivers caught and convicted of drug-driving can receive a minimum 12-month driving ban; a criminal record; an unlimited fine; and up to six months in prison. Drivers will also have an endoresement on their licence which will last for 11 years.

The maximum penalty for causing death by careless driving when under the influence of drugs or drink is life in prison, with a minimum driving ban of five years.

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