More than 1.2 million people admit to having driven while ‘high' on illegal drugs in the past 12 months, new research from Direct Line Car Insurance reveals.
Meanwhile, more than 2.8 million drivers admit to having operated a vehicle under the influence of banned substances in their lifetime.
The survey also highlighted how drug-drivers have a distorted perception of their driving ability, even when they haven't taken drugs. Over a third (36%) of those who drive whilst under the influence of narcotics rated their driving ability as very safe or quite safe, with just 20% admitting they were a danger on the road.
Almost one-in-ten (8%) admitted they drove while under the influence of drugs as they didn't think they would get caught. Other excuses include; drugs impairing their decision making process (7%), inability to find or afford a taxi (6%) and a lack of available public transport (4%).
Drivers under the influence of drugs are literally ‘speeding,' with one-in-twenty (6%) exceeding the speed limit.
Andy Goldby, director of Motor Underwriting at Direct Line Car Insurance, said: "Drug driving is as irresponsible as drink driving. The dangers of drug drivers on our roads are becoming increasingly apparent, with thousands admitting they have been involved in an accident while ‘high' or stoned.
"The effects of drugs can often leave people feeling overly confident or extremely relaxed, both of which are known to lead to dangerous driving behaviours. We strongly support the Department for Transport's (DfT) decision to clamp down on drug driving and would welcome further investment in effective roadside drug tests to screen drivers the police suspect are under the influence of illegal or strong prescription drugs."
In the past 12 months, over a third of drug drivers (35%) admitted to being under the influence of cannabis/skunk, which can significantly impair perceptions of distance and reaction times. More than one in six (15%) admitted to driving after snorting cocaine, which can make drivers overly aggressive on the road, race at high speeds and lack control. One in ten admitted to being high on ecstasy pills while driving, while a further 11% admitted having taken MDMA (the purest form of Ecstasy).
Drugs that motorists have been under influence of whilst driving
- Cannabis (35%)
- Cocaine (15%)
- Ecstasy tablet (11%)
- MDMA (11%)
- Temazepam / valium / diazepam (9%)
- Ketamine (7%)
- Magic mushrooms (7%)
- Legal highs (e.g salvia) (7%)
- Speed (7%)
- MCat / Meow Meow (4%)
Goldby commented: "Driving under the influence of narcotics is extremely dangerous, as it can severely impair the ability of a driver to physically operate a vehicle as well as their perception of the environment beyond the windscreen. The influence of THC - the active ingredient in marijuana - can negatively impair drivers' attentiveness, perception of time and speed."