Drugs can have a major effect on your ability to drive safely, and this is true no matter whether they are legal or illegal, prescribed, over the counter or recreational.
In fact, drug driving is a serious road safety problem, with drug impairment (from both legal and illegal drugs) contributing to around 80 fatal road accidents in Great Britain every year. In 2019, a driver or rider being impaired by legal or illegal drugs contributed to 2,278 reported road casualties – 92 of these people were killed and 737 were seriously injured.
Why is drug driving dangerous?
The effect of drugs on someone’s driving ability can vary depending on which drug has been taken. Some drugs, such as cannabis, can result in a driver’s reaction time being slowed, meaning they are less aware, drive slowly, and are less able to respond to hazards in adequate time. Drugs such as cocaine, however, have a different but still incredibly dangerous effect, leading to the driver becoming more erratic (despite any fatigue), resulting in increased risk-taking behaviour and a reduction in the ability to accurately judge situations.
What can be done about drug driving?
More campaigning needs to be done on drug driving, especially as drug-driving accident figures have shown no improvement in recent years. Some police forces are actually reporting rapid increases in convictions, sometimes exceeding those for drink driving.
It is important for motorists to be aware of the high level of risk that drugs cause, as they can significantly increase the chances of a driver or rider causing severe harm to themselves or others. In the UK, it is illegal to drive if you are unfit to do so as a result of taking legal or illegal drugs.