Swanswell calls for better education around risks of drink or drug driving

02 August 2013

Swanswell’s calling for better education and clearer messages around the dangers of drink and drug driving as new figures give cause for concern.

The national recovery charity, which wants to achieve a society free from problem alcohol and drug use, is responding to two separate reports this week around using alcohol or drugs before getting behind the wheel.

New figures from the Department for Transport (DfT) show the number of deaths in drink-drive accidents on Britain’s roads increased by 26% last year (290 deaths), compared to 2011 (230 deaths). It added 6,680 accidents in 2012 were linked to alcohol use.

Despite the rise, the DfT says the number of deaths is still around 25% lower than 2009 and almost 40% lower than the average between 2005 and 2009 – and considerably lower than the 1,640 drink-drive deaths recorded in 1979, when records began.

Meanwhile, a study for insurance comparison site Confused.com suggests nearly one in five people have driven under the influence of illegal or prescription drugs (BBC News).

According to the survey, 7% of the 2,000 motorists that were asked said they had used illegal drugs such as cannabis, cocaine or ecstasy before getting behind the wheel, and 12% said they’d driven under the influence of drugs prescribed by their doctor.

New legislation is planned next year which will make it easier to prosecute people driving under the influence of drugs.

Debbie Bannigan, Swanswell Chief Executive, said: ‘These reports certainly are worrying and should bring into sharp focus the risks and consequences of drink or drug driving.

We welcome attempts made over the years to try and tackle driving under the influence but we think more can be done to educate drivers in the first place, such as through more prominent information in the driving theory test.

Alcohol and drugs affect people in different ways but no matter how small an amount you might have before getting behind the wheel, judgement is affected and the risk of causing serious injury or even death is very real.

We shouldn’t forget that the victims are not just the people who have been drink or drug-driving – passengers, other road users and pedestrians are also put at risk.

People often tell us after attending our Drink Impaired Driver’s programmes that they would never have got behind the wheel after drinking, if they had known the risks, which suggests more extensive alcohol or drug education would work.

‘Ultimately, the only way to be sure you’re not over the limit and putting yourself and others at risk, is not to drink or use drugs at all before getting behind the wheel.’

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