One in ten young drivers takes the high road says the IAM

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One in ten young male drivers have driven under the influence of cannabis* according to the IAM (Institute of Advanced Motorists).

Impairment as the key factor is also essential in tackling drivers who may have used over the counter or prescription drugs, which while legal, can have an equal impact on driving ability as illegal ones.

One in ten young male drivers have driven under the influence of cannabis* according to the IAM (Institute of Advanced Motorists).

Around 750,000 people have driven under the influence of cannabis and 370,000 have driven under the influence of class A drugs*.

The government has announced that road-side drugalysers will be introduced this year, and is considering a new offence of driving with an illegal drug in your body. But it’s yet to be proven that limits can be set for illegal substances above which a driver is deemed to be unfit to drive.

The IAM believes that the proven ability of impairment testing should not be forgotten in any rush to provide a technological solution to the drug driving issue. Unless drugalysers can provide proof of impairment in situations where a cocktail of drugs and alcohol may have been taken, their main role will be as detectors of the presence of illegal substances. This may in itself be a useful function but not necessarily a road safety one.

IAM chief executive Simon Best said: “Any new equipment that will allow police to make quick and accurate decisions at the roadside or at the police station on drivers who are impaired by drugs is great. In this way traffic officers can get back out onto the frontline of roads policing, where their impact is highest.

“But the introduction of a drugalyser type test, needs to be backed up by some measure of impairment. Without this, the test could simply catch those people who have used drugs at some point, but are not necessarily still impaired by them.

“Impairment as the key factor is also essential in tackling drivers who may have used over the counter or prescription drugs, which while legal, can have an equal impact on driving ability as illegal ones.”

Notes to editors:     
1.    *Figures calculated from THINK! Road Safety Annual Survey and DVLA licensing statistics by age obtained through a freedom of information request.
These percentages have remained constant over the last five years of Think! Surveys. For some years a slightly higher proportion of drivers have admitted to driving under the influence of Class A drugs (2 per cent was reported in 2006 and 2009). Survey respondent numbers Nov ‘06 (1,462 respondents), Nov ‘07 (1,258 respondents), Oct ‘08 (1,219 respondents), Nov ‘09 (1,229 respondents), Feb ’11 (1,369 respondents).
2.    The IAM is the UK’s largest independent road safety charity, dedicated to improving standards and safety in driving, motorcycling and cycling. The commercial division of the IAM operates through its occupational driver training company IAM Drive & Survive. The IAM has more than 200 local volunteer groups and over 100,000 members in the UK and Ireland. It is best known for the advanced driving test and the advanced driving, motorcycling and cycling courses. Its policy and research division offers advice and expertise on road safety.

ENDS ALL
Media contacts:
IAM Press Office – 020 8996 9777
press.office (at) iam.org.uk
ISDN broadcast lines available
iam.org.uk

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Caroline Holmes - Communications officer
IAM
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Ben Schofield - Communications manager
IAM
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