Almost three-quarters of a million young drivers aged between 16-24 may have driven or been in a vehicle where the driver has been under the influence of illegal drugs.
According to new research published by the UK’s leading road safety charity, IAM RoadSmart, more than a quarter of young people know someone who drives while under the influence of illegal drugs and almost a third of 16–24-year-olds admitted having driven or been driven in a vehicle where they or the driver have taken illegal drugs within the 24-hour period before.
DVLA licensing data shows that approximately 2.5 million driving licences belong to this age group which when extrapolated to match the survey figures equates to up to 700,000. The research also found more than a third believe it’s more common to drive under the influence of illegal drugs than drink driving.
On a positive note, over two-thirds of this age group would be likely to stop others under the influence from driving. However, that is tempered by the revelation that almost a fifth of young drivers are unlikely to stop a family member or friend who was planning to drive while under the influence of illegal drugs.
Data published by the Department for Transport (DfT) revealed 2,500 road traffic casualties were in relation to drug-driving in 2021, a huge 260% increase since 2012. Meanwhile Ministry of Justice statistics show that convictions for driving a motor vehicle under the influence of drink or drugs overall has increased from 41,457 in 2014 to 58,117 in 2022 – a rise of 40% even at a time of declining full-time dedicated roads police officers.
IAM RoadSmart’s most recent annual Safety Culture Report showed that motorists of all ages consider drink and drug drivers as one of the biggest risks to their personal safety.
Nicholas Lyes, Director of Policy and Standards at IAM RoadSmart, said: “IAM RoadSmart’s research clearly shows there is a shocking level of illegal drug-driving going on among younger drivers which risks not only their lives but the lives of all road users.
“Worryingly, almost a fifth of younger drivers would be unlikely to stop a friend or relative from driving under the influence of illegal drugs so it’s clear more needs to be done to educate drivers of the dangers, and a robust plan from government is urgently needed on how they plan to stamp out this issue.
“One thing the Government may wish to look at is developing a separate strategy to drink-driving for drug-driving alone. Alongside this, we need more police officers conducting roadside drug-tests as well as looking at offering drug-driving rehabilitation courses, much like we do for those convicted of drink-driving.”
To learn more about IAM RoadSmart’s campaign to raise awareness and drive change to stop these trends, click here.