Legislation arriving to punish drug driving
Members of the public are being urged to stand up to illegal drug drivers, following a survey conducted by Brake and Direct Line.
Findings come before a new law making it an offence to drive with drugs in your body, coming into force across Britain on 2 March 2015.
The legislation is also known as Lillian’s Law, after 14 year-old Croydon school girl Lillian Groves, killed outside her home by a speeding driver on cannabis in June 2010.
The survey revealed the equivalent of one million UK drivers (3%) admits driving on drugs in the past year and just over one in ten (11%) think they may have been a passenger with one.
At the same time, nearly three in 10 (29%) admit they wouldn’t always speak out to stop a friend driving on drugs.
The findings suggest an alarming level of ignorance or complacency about the effects of illegal drugs, especially among male and young drivers:
Three in 10 (29%) wouldn’t always speak out if a friend was going to drive on drugs.
Most common among young (9%) and male (7%) drivers, a significant one in 20 (5%) wouldn’t speak out even if their friend was clearly out of control.
Young people and men are also most likely to have possibly or definitely been a passenger with a driver on drugs – 18% of young drivers and 15% of male drivers say they have been in this situation in the past year.
The Drug Drive Law will make it a criminal offence to drive under the influence of drugs, with specified zero-tolerance limits enforced with roadside drug testing devices.
Those found guilty will face a maximum six-month jail sentence, £5,000 fine, and automatic 12-month driving ban.
Natasha Groves, Lillian’s mum, said: “Lillian was a wonderful young girl who did not deserve to die. She lit up rooms and gave warmth to everyone she met. …… That’s why we fought so hard for a change in the law.
“Nothing will ever make up for the travesty of Lillian being stolen from us, but we urge all drivers never to drive after taking illegal drugs and save other families from going through the same ordeal we have.”
Julie Townsend, Deputy Chief Executive at Brake, said: “Drug driving is a menace that causes absolute devastation to families and communities, and ends too many lives too soon.
“We all need to stand up and fight to end it, as the Groves have done so bravely following the terrible death of Lillian….
“Look out for your friends, and if you think they might be driving on drugs, speak out. You will stop them putting innocent lives in danger, and you may stop them going to jail.”
Rob Miles, Director of Car Insurance at Direct Line, commented: “Drugs and driving are a deadly combination which can have devastating effects on people’s lives, particularly in combination with alcohol…
“Direct Line welcomes the drug drive law coming into force next March and hopes it will act as a deterrent to anyone tempted to drive after having taken illegal drugs.”
Consisting of 1,000 drivers and conducted by Surveygoo, the survey results come from Section 6 of Report 2: Fit to Drive, part of the Direct Line and Brake report on safe driving, 2012-14, released (Tuesday 5 August 2014).