The Safer Essex Roads Partnership has teamed up with Essex Police to launch a new drug-drive campaign – warning offenders they are more likely to be caught than ever before.
The focal point of the campaign is a short film which uses humour to highlight that even if a driver does not look or feel stoned, they could still have drugs in their system which will show up during a roadside test.
It aims to debunk the common belief among drug drivers that they will not get caught, instead shining a spotlight on the fact that Essex Police has more than 600 officers trained to use drug wipes – meaning offenders are more likely to get caught than ever before.
Nicola Foster, chairman of the Safer Essex Roads Partnership, said: “The number of arrests for drug driving is both shocking and saddening.
“Taking drugs and then driving are two things that simply don’t mix well. You might feel fine but if you are over the drug drive limit, you are risking your life as well as the lives of others.
“1,500 drivers arrested in Essex this year thought they wouldn’t get caught, or weren’t aware of the limit.
“Please don’t let your choices hurt someone else.”
‘Different and radical’ approach
Statistics show in the first 10 months of 2019, Essex Police made 1,491 drug drive arrests – 44% higher than the total recorded during the entirety of 2018 (1,039).
Meanwhile, there have been more arrests for drug driving than drink driving in 10 of the past 12 months – with a record 180 arrests made in April 2019.
Talking about the approach to the campaign, Adam Pipe, Essex Police’s head of roads policing, said: “We’ve talked a lot about drug driving in the last 18 months but it seems the message isn’t getting through so we’ve decided to take a different and radical approach to raising awareness to the issue.
“We’re using humour to attract attention to it but that in no way means we’re downplaying the seriousness of it or how devastating the consequences can be.”
Steve Horton, Road Safety GB’s director of communications, said: “Road safety professionals across the country recognise drug impaired driving as one of the key contributing factors in road crashes and that the scale of drug driving is only just becoming clear following the introduction of enforcement limits and road side screening.
“The Essex Police and Safer Essex Roads Partnership approach clearly targets the audience they have identified as being likely to combine a drug related lifestyle with driving, and they use anticipated regret linked to what many might assume are two separate things – taking drugs one day and the potential impairment to driving on another day.
“We know it’s a complex message with complex motivation for a complex audience, so the use of simple images and audience segmentation is critical to raise initial awareness.”