New figures released show 36 drug drivers are being caught per day in the UK
According to new figures released by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), 36 drug drivers are being caught on UK roads by the police in England and Wales.
Their records show that over half of drivers pulled up on suspicion of being high from drug use are failing roadside testing.
The police carried out a one month crackdown in June this year and over 2,000 motorists were pulled over and tested for drug-driving. Alarmingly, 54% or nearly 1,100 drivers supplied positive readings for a variety of banned substances such as cocaine and cannabis.
These figures mean that officers are catching 36 drug drivers a day in the UK.
Compared to a similar operation which took place in 2014, the police have caught 16 times more people during this year’s operation – the figure for 2014 was only 66.
Since ‘drugalyser’ testing kits were introduced two years ago, nearly 5,000 drivers on drugs have been caught.
However, despite these figures, campaigners claim the real number of motorists jumping in a car and driving whilst under the influence of drugs could be much larger due to the fact that the number of motorists being pulled over by the police has dropped following cuts to staff.
Following the news, the Police Federation for England and Wales are requesting immediate action to reverse the cuts, stating ‘positive drug screening tests have increased at an alarming rate’.
A total of 2,022 drivers were pulled up by the police during crackdown month and from these, 1,084 drivers showed a positive reading for drugs.
Regarding 243 of these cases, the driver had been involved in an accident when pulled over and tested and 48 were found to be under the influence of a banned substance.
During the same month in 2016, just 36% of 2,588 drivers tested positive for drug use.
Jayne Willetts from the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: “These figures are worrying. It not only shows that the number of drivers being stopped has fallen but positive drug screening tests have increased at an alarming rate.”
Around 320 deaths and serious injury incidents on UK roads each year are down to drug drivers and tests carried out by the DfT show that one in six motorists killed in a road collision had been under the influence of drugs.
The new ‘drugalyser’ testing kit has helped officers to catch more illegal drug-drivers and works in a similar way to breathalysers.
A saliva swab is taken from the driver by the police and within minutes the device is able to detect and identify which type of banned substance they are under the influence of. They can detect up to 17 different types of illegal drugs such as ecstasy, cocaine and cannabis but can also detect a number of prescription drugs too.
If a motorists is convicted for drug-driving they could be looking at six months in jail, a one year driving ban and a hefty fine, however most are handed a fine and short ban.
Director of campaigns for the road safety charity Brake, Jason Wakeford, said: “Those who drive in the UK under the influence of drugs have to get the message that they will be caught and face tough penalties.”
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