IAM survey shows 22% of young drivers happy to get behind the wheel after taking class A drugs

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An IAM RoadSmart survey of over 2000 UK drivers has revealed that 22% aged between 17 and 34 think it’s okay to get behind the wheel of a car after taking Class A drugs.

The road safety charity surveyed 2013 motorists as part of their ‘2023 Road Safety Culture Report’ published on April 26, 2024.

“Whatever the cost of enforcement, the increasing prevalence and perceived acceptability among certain groups should encourage police forces to beef up resources to stamp it out,” IAM RoadSmart Policy, Public Affairs and Communications Manager, William Porter said.

A stationary motorbike being passed by cars

“We call on Government to also do their part to ensure resources are deployed to prevent re-offending with the introduction of drug-driving rehabilitation courses as is currently mandated with drink-driving.”

Drivers of all ages were asked ‘How acceptable do you personally feel it is for a driver to drive after using Class A drugs such as Cocaine and Ecstasy?’, with 13% across all age brackets deeming it to be acceptable. This also included 4% of respondents over 70, and 5% aged 50-69.

Alongside the disparity in opinions by age, the research also showed that 21% of drivers travelling more than 10,000 miles a year felt it was acceptable to take Class A drugs and drive.

A motorbike filtering through traffic

“Social acceptability of drink-driving took generations to change, and we must be clear that we will be as intolerant of drug-drivers as we are drink-drivers. We believe that a scheme to introduce drug-driving courses should be part of an overall strategy to reduce reoffending,” the IAM’s William Porter continued.

Back in 2014, UK Government data revealed that 106 drivers died with the presence of ‘at lease one impairment drug detected.’ This rose to 208 by 2018 and sat at 171 at the end of 2021.

Those caught and convicted of drug-driving can receive a minimum one year driving ban, up to six months in prison, an unlimited fine, and more. Their licence will also have an endorsement for the offence for 11 years.

A motorcycle being ridden in London Traffic

Alongside the use of illegal drugs, both IAM RoadSmart and the Department for Transport (DfT) also warn of the risks surrounding the use of legally prescribed substances, that could impair your ability to drive.

“The lesser spoken threat of drivers getting behind the wheel while on lawful prescription drugs also warrants greater attention from government,” the IAM RoadSmart spokesperson continued, “with nearly a third of drivers not seeing the practice as being a threat to them on the roads, despite the evidence that many prescription drugs can impair reaction times.”

If you have been prescribed a drug that reduces your ability to drive safely, then it is illegal to get behind the wheel. Government advice states that you should consult your doctor if you’ve been prescribed drugs including diazepam, flunitrazepam, lorazepam, methadone, and more.