Articles Tagged ‘drug-drive - Brake the road safety charity’

Ban and test for drug driving in the UK

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Drugged driving is a widespread and often hidden menace in the UK. While not many drivers admit to it in surveys (for obvious reasons) research by the UK research agency TRL has found 17.7% of UK drivers who die in crashes have traces of illegal drugs in their system [1]. Many drugged drivers who have killed have been found to have taken a lethal cocktail of drugs and alcohol. We want drivers registering any level of illegal drugs in their blood stream to be guilty of an offence of driving under the influence of drugs, whether or not it can be proved their driving was impaired. Shockingly, such a law isn't on the statute books already. We also need urgent approval of electronic roadside testing for drugs that can be used effectively to carry out random and targeted checks on drivers at the roadside.

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Facts about drug driving
Enforcement of drink and drug driving

Campaign news

Transport Select Committee publishes recommendations on tackling drink and drug driving, 02.12.10
Brake responds to the Transport Committee's inquiry on drink and drug driving, 27.08.10
Drugs Roadside Testing Bill 2010 - 2011 presented to Parliament, 05.07.10
North Report on drink and drug driving published, 16.06.10
Independent drug-drive review report submitted to Secretary of State by Sir Peter North, 21.05.10
Brake DCE Cathy Keeler meets Sir Peter North and independent drug-drive review team, 18.02.10
Independent review of drug driving by Sir Peter North announced by Government, Brake reaction, and terms of reference, 03.12.09
Brake CE Mary Williams OBE comment on the devastation caused by drink and drug drivers and the necessary solutions to it, 23.11.09
Road Safety Week survey shows more than one in four young people admit to being a drink or drug driver or a passenger with one, 23-24.11.09
Brake calls on drivers to drive sober, and Government to take urgent action in Road Safety Week 'Not a Drop; Not a Drag' campaign, 23.11.09
Brake response to Department for Transport consultation on road safety compliance, 28.02.09
Department for Transport consultation on road safety compliance, including drug driving, closes 28.02.09
Brake holds conference on drink and drug driving, 12.05.05

Footnotes

[1]Tunbridge, RJ; Keigan, M; James, FJ, The incidence of drugs and alcohol in road accident fatalities, TRL report 495 (TRL, 2001)

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Brake annual reception, January 2017

Speech by Mary Williams OBE, chief executive, Brake, annual reception for the charity, Westminster, 25 January 2017

To quote Martin Luther King, “The time is always right to do what is right.”

Time is an unruly beast however. 

It has a habit of speeding up and slowing down.

For busy families, and busy workers, in our busy world, it moves fast. The temptation to multi-task; to drive while on a smart phone, to break speed limits, to take the car rather than cycle and save the planet, are life-threatening, climate endangering behaviours fuelled by pressures of time. They cause drivers to prioritise ‘in the moment’, wrongly, and to devastating effect.

Time can stop in a moment.

Time grinds to a halt when someone is killed or seriously injured in a road crash. Our routines are suspended. Suddenly, our attention is focussed.

It’s beautifully summed up in WH Auden’s famous poem so often used at funerals.  “Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone. Scribble on the sky the message “he is dead”.”

Yet, consumed by grief and distress, we are given a strange and precious gift. We are given the gift of sight. We can see what matters above all – people and life. As Auden puts it: “he was my north, my south, my east, my west.”

Whether we can see it or not, the time is always right to put humanity first.

“The time is always right to do what is right.” 

There are so many affected families who work alongside Brake, bravely, to fight for humanity. To fight for what others cannot see through the haze of the day to day.

To fight for appropriately grave sentences for drivers who kill and injure through wanton actions:

use of smart phones and other on-board screens.

drink and drug driving.

speeding, or driving unlicensed, disqualified or uninsured.

knowingly driving a mechanically unfit vehicle or driving tired.  

Campaigning takes time – frustrating amounts of time. Brake has been fighting for tougher sentences for more than 20 years. Last year, working with affected families, we elevated our Roads to Justice campaign in the media.

The current government consultation road traffic offences provides a real and urgent opportunity to redress paltry sentencing.

There are so many campaigns that Brake has found, to our cost, take inordinate time, when the road ahead seems so clear.

There are so many campaigns we have consistently supported, are still outstanding and that this government has a chance to resolve. 

A reduction in the drink drive limit, to stop our country being infamous for having the highest limit in Europe.

The government has the public with them. More than three quarters of drivers we surveyed in partnership with Direct Line think our limit is too high.

Approved testing devices to catch MDMA and cocaine drivers.

20mph limits as a default for built up roads.

A country-wide network of segregated cycle lanes that connect places, enabling, fast, healthy, zero emission transport.

Prioritisation of pedestrianisation, with wide and safe pavements, crossing places and livable traffic free spaces, enabling people to move our bodies, talk to our children, meet our neighbours. Invigorating communities.

A country with transport powered by clean fuels, to end the carnage of respiratory deaths from particulate pollution. There is more than one way a vehicle can kill you.  

Vehicles, speed, air pollution and people just don’t mix. It’s possible, but not yet, that automated vehicles of the future will be able to stop on a penny for every hazard.

But that doesn’t and will never change our need to move our bodies, and consequently be healthy, happy people, particularly our children and their need to walk, run, hop and skip in safety and while breathing clean air.   

This week’s very high air pollution warning in London and the mayor’s announcement of “toxic air audits” at London schools drives home the importance of super-charging policy measures to enable low-carbon transport. 

Brake is fighting for a world that is safe, green, clean and fair, with zero road casualties and emissions from transport. This is a vision of sustainable mobility.

The United Nation’s 2020 deadline is rapidly approaching, for a halving of road deaths and injuries globally through safe systems and the 2030 goal of clean transport.  

This government has the power to stop the clock. To see what needs to be done. To be at the forefront of road safety solutions globally.

Over the past year, Brake has looked hard at our role providing education. We’ve particularly reflected on the difficulties of a campaigning, awareness raising charity achieving immediate behavioural change among individual drivers. Our surveys tell us time and again that many drivers understand risks, and do it anyway.

More than half of 25-34 year old drivers we questioned last year admitted sending or reading messages while driving.

Behavioural changes takes time. We haven’t got time.

The reality is that, while Brake can raise awareness, change needs to come from the top, and fast. 

To provide more funding for victim support.

To eliminate road casualties through safe systems.

To enable all vehicles to be clean vehicles.

But together we are so much stronger. I want to thank all supporters of the charity who help enable that change.

The families bereaved and injured, and their supportive communities, who raise awareness of the cause and fundraise.

The teachers who promote Road Safety Week in their schools, enabling children to pester power their parents to slow down.

The police and other road safety professionals, particularly family liaison officers, doing such an important task supporting affected families.

The companies prioritising managing their road risk, investing in low-carbon transport, or providing funds to the charity.

To our governments for part-funding Road Safety Week and our national victim helpline.

And last but not least to the Brake team of staff I am privileged to work with, many of whom are here tonight also.

When a life ends, time is suspended. We have clarity. Let’s use that clarity to keep fighting for humanity. 

 

 

Brake calls for zero-tolerance on at-work drink- and drug-drivers

Wednesday 14 May 2014

Brake, the road safety charity
news@brake.org.uk

Employers are being urged to implement zero-tolerance policies on at-work drink- and drug-driving by road safety charity Brake, as a Brake and Licence Bureau survey finds fewer than half (44%) would dismiss an employee for driving over the legal alcohol limit.

Published today (14 May) in a report for employers with staff who drive for work by Brake's Fleet Safety Forum, the survey reveals:

  • More than half never test employees for alcohol (55%) or drugs (57%)
  • Four in 10 (44%) would dismiss an employee found driving over the legal limit for alcohol
  • Six in 10 (62%) take disciplinary action against employees found to have any amount of alcohol or illegal drugs in their system at work, but only three in 10 (30%) would dismiss employees for this
  • Fewer than half (47%) educate drivers on the risks of drug-driving, and only slightly more (50%) educate drivers on the risks of drink-driving.

It is vital that any employer with staff who drive for work takes steps to prevent drink and drug driving. Drink-driving accounts for one in six UK road deaths [1], and even very small amounts of alcohol impair driving [2]. Research suggests almost a quarter (24%) of road deaths in the UK involve at least one illegal drug or medicine [3].

Previous Brake research has found people who drive for work are susceptible to these risks. They are more likely to admit to driving first thing after having drunk a lot of alcohol the night before, and to driving after taking illegal drugs, than drivers who do not drive for work [4].

The survey also found many employers don't have crucial practices in place to manage other fitness drive issues, like tiredness, stress and poor eyesight, which can lead to devastating and costly crashes:

  • Only four in 10 (42%) regularly review schedules and workloads to ensure drivers are not put under undue pressure that could lead to stress or tiredness
  • Only six in 10 (60%) stipulate that employees should stop and rest if they feel sleepy at the wheel
  • Only one in four (25%) require staff who drive for work to have a full eyesight test every two years.

Brake is urging all employers with staff who drive for work – whether they have a fleet of commercial vehicles, company cars, or staff driving their own vehicles on company time – to implement policies and procedures to ensure their drivers are sober, alert, not stressed or tired, and have good eyesight.

Steps such as introducing zero-tolerance policies on drink and drugs, requiring regular eye tests, and managing workloads and schedules, can help organisations prevent devastating crashes, reduce insurance and repair costs, and improve their reputation. See advice below. Employers can access more detailed advice from Brake by ordering the report and joining Brake's Fleet Safety Forum at www.brakepro.org/survey2014pt1.

Laura Woods, research and information officer at Brake, says: "It is desperately worrying that so many employers are lacking the tough approach needed to tackle drink and drug driving at work. This is highly dangerous, selfish risk-taking that should be treated as gross misconduct. People who drive for work should be clear that there is no safe amount to drink before driving – not a drop. We're appealing to all employers with staff who drive for work to ensure their drivers know the risks, know the rules, and know that breaking the rules will not be tolerated. Employers can use Brake's Fleet Safety Forum guidance to review their driving policies and practices, and ensure their drivers are always fit to drive."

Les Owen from Licence Bureau says: "Too many companies bury their head in the sand about road risk management, but this is not helping their business nor making our roads safer. This report identifies the state of companies' management of fitness to drive issues. Companies have a responsibility to manage the at-work safety of staff who drive just as much as staff performing construction, electrical, engineering or other duties, and should consider their corporate social responsibility when reading this report. If all employers acted positively, one step at a time, to implement the recommendations in this report it would make a big difference to road safety, result in fewer collisions, and benefit many businesses' bottom line. All companies can make a huge difference to safety by following these recommendations, whether they already engage with Brake or not."

Brake's advice for employers

Drink- and drug-driving are deadly risks. Any amount of alcohol or illegal drug use at work should be considered gross misconduct. This zero-tolerance policy should be supported by comprehensive alcohol and drugs education, covering such inadvertent risks as 'morning-after' drink driving, and the risks from medicines such as hayfever drugs. Workplace testing for drugs and alcohol will ensure employees are following the rules and help spot any problem drivers before they cause a crash.

Safe drivers are well-rested, alert, and stress-free. Employers should talk to their drivers about any health concerns, including stress from their work or home life, to flag up any problems that might affect their driving. It is also important to manage schedules to ensure drivers have sufficient rest time, and are not put under undue pressure that could cause stress or encourage them to take risks such as speeding.

Good eyesight is fundamental to safe driving, so employers should require drivers to have eye tests at least every two years, preferably funded by the organisation.

The Fleet Safety Forum survey report gives further guidance and best practice case studies in managing fitness to drive issues. Employers can order the report at www.brakepro.org/survey2014pt1

About the report

The survey results come from Brake and Licence Bureau's Fleet Safety Forum Survey Report Part One: Fit to Drive, released today (Wednesday 14 May 2014). 228 organisations that employ drivers responded to the survey, which was conducted online through SurveyMonkey.

Brake advises and supports companies to manage their road risk through its Fleet Safety Forum. The survey report is available for free to Fleet Safety Forum subscribers, or can be purchased for £5 by non-subscribers. Special offer: the first 25 non-subscribers to request the report through our online form will get a copy for FREE.

 

 

Brake is a national road safety charity that exists to stop the needless deaths and serious injuries that happen on roads every day, make streets and communities safer for everyone, and care for families bereaved and injured in road crashes. Brake promotes road safety awareness, safe and sustainable road use, and effective road safety policies. We do this through national campaignscommunity education, a Fleet Safety Forumpractitioner services, and by coordinating the UK's flagship road safety event every November, Road Safety Week. Brake is a national, government-funded provider of support to families and individuals devastated by road death and serious injury, including through a helpline and support packs.

Brake was founded in the UK in 1995, and now has domestic operations in the UK and New Zealand, and works globally to promote action on road safety.

Road crashes are not accidents; they are devastating and preventable events, not chance mishaps. Calling them accidents undermines work to make roads safer, and can cause insult to families whose lives have been torn apart by needless casualties.

The Fleet Safety Forum is a not-for-profit service for fleet managers run by Brake. Subscribers receive: free and discounted access to Brake's professional events; free training in Brake's Pledge to stop dangerous and unnecessary driving; e-bulletins containing the latest initiatives and research in fleet and road safety from across the globe; password access to the Brake Professional website containing guidance for managers and a host of resources for drivers; and posters. Annual subscription costs £155 +VAT. Subscribe at www.brakepro.org, call +44 (0)1484 559909 or email professional@brake.org.uk.

End notes

[1] Reported road casualties in Great Britain: Estimates for accidents involving illegal alcohol levels, Department for Transport, 2013

[2] Official blame for drivers with very low blood alcohol content, University of California, 2014

[3] The incidence of drugs and alcohol in road accident fatalities, Transport Research Laboratory, 2001

[4] At-work drivers: drink and drugs, Brake and Direct Line, 2012

Brake echoes police calls, warning young people of dangers of drink and drug driving

Wednesday 21 January 2015

Brake, the road safety charity
news@brake.org.uk 

Brake, the road safety charity, has praised police for their efforts to catch drink and drug drivers over the festive period but has expressed concern that a significant minority of drivers – especially among the younger age group – are continuing to endanger lives.

An increasingly intelligence-led approach by officers resulted in fewer breath tests this year, down to 133,996, but a higher rate of drivers testing positive, with 5,885, or 4.39%, failing breath testsaccording to figures released by the Association of Chief Police Officers.

Among these, 28,228 under-25s were tested, with a 6.33% failure rate, compared to 3.94% of over-25s. 

Brake is warning there is still a long way to go to stamp out the menace of drink and drug driving throughout the year. According to a Brake and Direct Line survey, many continue to take the deadly risk of driving after drinking and many feel unable to speak out to stop others doing it [1].

Brake also warns that many who pass the breath test could be unsafe to drive due to the England, Wales and Northern Ireland’s high drink drive limit. Scotland reduced its drink drive limit on 5 December 2014, to 50mg per 100ml of blood. Brake is renewing its calls for a zero tolerance drink drive limit of 20mg per 100ml blood. See calls for action below and the facts on why it should be none for the road.

Brake is also urging the government to give greater priority to traffic policing and ensure sufficient resourcing is available for vital drink and drug driving enforcement, following significant cuts [2], and especially ahead of a new drug drive law coming into force in England and Wales on 2 March.

Brake urges all drivers never to drink any alcohol or take any drugs before driving: not a drop, not a drag. See Brake’s advice below.

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive, Brake, said:“It is encouraging to see police increasingly using an intelligence-led approach to catching drink and drug drivers, and their Christmas and summer enforcement campaigns remain vitally important. Drink driving is still one of the biggest killers on our roads and we have some way to go before we persuade all drivers to commit to never driving after drinking. It’s especially worrying that the message is not getting through to a significant minority of young people. People who persist in drink driving needlessly put the lives of others at risk and too often cause crashes that devastate families and communities, all for the sake of a drink. Our message is clear: it should be none for the road.”

The police figures coincide with Brake launching a new interactive e-learning resource, ‘Sober up’, produced with sponsorship from Hitachi Capital Driving Instructor Solutions. The resource is available at brake.org.uk/soberup and can be used by drivers and families directly, as well as by educators, employers and road safety practitioners to engage groups of young people and drivers on the issue of drink and drug driving.

Read about Brake’s ‘not a drop, not a drag’ campaign.

Facts

One in six deaths on UK roads are caused by drink drivers over the current legal limit [3], but drivers with even 20-50mg alcohol per 100ml of blood are at least three times more likely to die in a crash than those with no alcohol in their blood [4]. This is because even small amounts of alcohol affect drivers' reaction times, judgment and co-ordination. Alcohol also makes it impossible for drivers to assess their own impairment because it creates a false sense of confidence and means drivers are more inclined to take risks and believe they are in control when they are not [5].

Brake’s advice

Even very small amounts of alcohol affect drivers' reaction times and hazard perception, making them much more likely to crash. This is the case even if the driver doesn't feel drunk or even tipsy. So the only way to ensure you're safe if you're driving this festive season is not drink any alcohol before driving, and never drive the morning after having more than one or two drinks. And as a passenger, only accept a lift with a driver who's had no alcohol at all.

Planning ahead to get home safely will help you avoid getting into an awkward or risky situation, such as having to refuse a lift from a driver who has had alcohol. If you're getting a lift back from a night out with someone, make sure they are 100% on board with not having any alcohol at all. Always have a plan B just in case a designated driver lets you down, or arrange from the outset to get a taxi or public transport instead.

Calls for government action

Brake calls for a zero tolerance limit of 20mg alcohol per 100ml of blood, to send a clear message that it should be none for the road. This allows for naturally occurring alcohol in the body, and is a limit set by numerous other countries including Sweden, Poland and Greece. The EU recommends a limit of no more than 50mg, and within the EU only Malta shares the UK's limit of 80mg alcohol. Governments in Scotland and Northern Ireland have announced intentions to reduce their limits to 50mg alcohol per 100ml blood. In Northern Ireland, newly qualified drivers and commercial drivers will have a zero tolerance limit of 20mg.

Brake

Brake is a national road safety charity that exists to stop the needless deaths and serious injuries that happen on roads every day, make streets and communities safer for everyone, and care for families bereaved and injured in road crashes. Brake promotes road safety awareness, safe and sustainable road use, and effective road safety policies. We do this through national campaignscommunity education, services for road safety professionals and employers, and by coordinating the UK's flagship road safety event every November, Road Safety Week. Brake is a national, government-funded provider of support to families and individuals devastated by road death and serious injury, including through a helpline and support packs.

Brake was founded in the UK in 1995, and now has domestic operations in the UK and New Zealand, and works globally to promote action on road safety.

Follow Brake on Twitter or Facebook. Follow Julie Townsend on Twitter.

Road crashes are not accidents; they are devastating and preventable events, not chance mishaps. Calling them accidents undermines work to make roads safer, and can cause insult to families whose lives have been torn apart by needless casualties.

End notes

[1]Christmas party-goers urged to help save lives by standing up to ‘designated drivers’ who drink, as survey shows we’re still too timid, Brake, 10 December 2013
[2] Huge roads policing cuts put public at risk, warns charity, Brake, 23 January 2012
[3] Reported Road Casualties in Great Britain: 2012 Annual Report, Department for Transport, 2013, includes those drivers who were involved in crashes but were under the legal limit.
[4] National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, 2010. Review of effectiveness of laws limiting blood alcohol concentration levels to reduce alcohol-related road injuries and deaths, London: National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence
[5] ibid

Brake urges drivers: save lives by pledging ‘not a drop not a drag’, as police launch drink and drug drive crackdown

Monday 1 June 1015

Brake, the road safety charity
news@brake.org.uk 

The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC, formerly the Association of Chief Police Officers) launches its annual summer drink and drug driving enforcement campaign today (1 June 2015). Brake, the road safety charity, is backing the campaign and urging drivers to enjoy themselves responsibly this summer, and pledge not to drink any alcohol or take any drugs before getting behind the wheel – not a drop, not a drag.

The enforcement campaign will see police across England and Wales stepping up roadside alcohol and drug checks, and warning the public about the risks. For the first time, the summer crackdown will see the use of roadside drug screeners, following the introduction of a zero-tolerance drug drive law in March 2015.

As part of last summer’s campaign, 63,688 drivers were breathalysed, of who 4,108 failed the test – a slightly increased failure rate on the year before, possibly due to increasingly targeted enforcement.

As the weather improves over the summer, some people may be tempted to have a drink as they travel to and from BBQs, festivals and other events. Brake is urging everyone to leave the car at home or ensure they have a completely sober designated driver for summer festivities, and to look out for friends and family by making sure they plan ahead to get home without putting lives at risk.

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive, Brake, said:“We believe drink driving is becoming more and more socially unacceptable in the UK, further aided by the lowering of the drink drive limit in Scotland at the end of last year. The new drug drive law introduced in March was also an important step in catching risky impaired drivers. However, there is a long way to go to stamp out this menace completely, as a selfish minority continue to get behind the wheel after drinking alcohol or taking drugs. We urge all drivers to ensure they are not part of that minority; instead we can all be part of the solution by making sure we can get home safely from summer festivities, and looking out for friends and family and ensuring they stay sober behind the wheel.

“Even one small drink or small amounts of drugs make you a danger on the road, so the only safe policy is not to drink or take drugs at all if you’re driving – not a drop, not a drag. Feeling fine does not mean you’re safe to drive. That’s why Brake continues to campaign for a zero-tolerance drink drive limit, and greater priority to be given to roads policing, to make clear drink and drug driving won’t be tolerated.”

Brake campaigns for a zero-tolerance drink drive limit of 20mg per 100ml of blood through itsnot a drop, not a drag campaign. Tweet us:@Brakecharity, #notadrop.

Facts

One in eight deaths on UK roads are caused by drink drivers over the current legal limit [1] of 80mg alcohol per 100 ml blood, but drivers with even 20-50mg alcohol per 100ml of blood are at least three times more likely to die in a crash than those with no alcohol in their blood [2]. This is because even small amounts of alcohol affect drivers' reaction times, judgment and co-ordination. Alcohol also makes it impossible for drivers to assess their own impairment because it creates a false sense of confidence and means drivers are more inclined to take risks and believe they are in control when they are not [3].

Historically, levels of drug driving have not been fully recorded, but research suggests that the scale of the problem may be similar to drink-driving. A study by the Transport Research Laboratory found that 18% of drivers and 16% of motorcyclists killed in road crashes had traces of illegal drugs in their system, the most common being cannabis [4]. It's been estimated 200 deaths a year may result from drug driving [5].

Brake’s advice

Even very small amounts of alcohol affect drivers' reaction times and hazard perception, making them much more likely to crash, even if they don’t feel drunk or even tipsy. The only way to ensure you're safe is to not drink any alcohol before driving, and never drive the morning after having more than one or two drinks. As a passenger, only accept a lift with a driver who's had no alcohol at all.

Planning ahead to get home safely will help avoid getting into an awkward or risky situation, such as having to refuse a lift from a driver who has had alcohol. If you're getting a lift back from a BBQ, party or night out with someone, make sure they are 100% on board with not having any alcohol at all. Always have a plan B just in case a designated driver lets you down, or arrange from the outset to get a taxi or public transport instead.

Never risk taking illegal drugs and driving. Their effects are unpredictable, but research shows they can have a disastrous impact on your ability to drive safely. Drugs and alcohol is an especially deadly combination.

It is impossible to judge how impaired you are or if a friend is impaired, so if you or a mate has been taking drugs, you should assume you're unfit to drive, even if you feel okay.

The effects of drugs can last a long time. They can also badly disrupt sleep and make you a risk behind the wheel for days as a result. That's why you can't have illegal drugs and driving in your life at the same time without posing a danger to yourself and others.

Calls for government action

Brake calls for a zero tolerance drink drive limit of 20mg alcohol per 100ml of blood, to send a clear message that it should be none for the road. This allows for naturally occurring alcohol in the body, and is a limit set by numerous other countries including Sweden, Poland and Greece. The EU recommends a limit of no more than 50mg, and within the EU only Malta shares the UK's limit of 80mg. The limit in Scotland has already been lowered to 50mg.

Brake

Brake is a national road safety charity that exists to stop the needless deaths and serious injuries that happen on roads every day, make streets and communities safer for everyone, and care for families bereaved and injured in road crashes. Brake promotes road safety awareness, safe and sustainable road use, and effective road safety policies. We do this through national campaignscommunity education, services for road safety professionals and employers, and by coordinating the UK's flagship road safety event every November, Road Safety Week. Brake is a national, government-funded provider of support to families and individuals devastated by road death and serious injury, including through a helpline and support packs.

Brake was founded in the UK in 1995, and now has domestic operations in the UK and New Zealand, and works globally to promote action on road safety.

Follow Brake on TwitterFacebook, orThe Brake Blog. Follow Julie Townsend on Twitter.

Road crashes are not accidents; they are devastating and preventable events, not chance mishaps. Calling them accidents undermines work to make roads safer, and can cause insult to families whose lives have been torn apart by needless casualties.

End notes

[1] Final estimate for 2012, from Reported road casualties in Great Britain, final estimates involving illegal alcohol levels: 2012, Department for Transport, 2014

[2] Review of effectiveness of laws limiting blood alcohol concentration levels to reduce alcohol-related road injuries and deaths, National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, 2010

[3] ibid

[4]The Incidence of Drugs and Alcohol in Road Accident Fatalities, Transport Research Laboratory, 2000

[5] Driving under the influence of drugs: report from the expert panel on drug driving, Department for Transport, 2013

Brake welcomes fall in Xmas drink driving but renews call for zero tolerance

24 January 2014

Brake, the road safety charity
news@brake.org.uk

Brake, the road safety charity, has praised police for their increased efforts to catch drink and drug drivers over the festive period and welcomed news that drink drive arrests were down while breath-tests were up.

6,550 people were arrested in the month-long police enforcement campaign over Christmas and New Year, 573 less than during the same period last year, according to figures released by the Association of Chief Police Officers today.

The drop in arrests comes despite a welcome increase in enforcement activity over the period, with 191,040 breath tests conducted, up from 175,831 in 2012. 3.4% of those tested failed or refused the test, down from 4% in 2012. Drink driving also fell among young people, with 4.4% of under 25s failing the test, down from 5.3% in 2012.

However, Brake warns there is still a long way to go to completely stamp out the menace of drink and drug driving throughout the year. According to a recent Brake survey, many drivers are continuing to take the deadly risk of driving after drinking [1], and many who pass the breath test could still be unsafe to drive due to the UK's high drink drive limit. Hence Brake is renewing its calls for a zero tolerance drink drive limit of 20mg per 100 ml blood. See calls for government action below.

Brake is also urging the government to give greater priority to traffic policing and ensure sufficient resourcing is available for vital drink and drug driving enforcement, following significant cuts in recent years [2].

Brake urges all drivers never to drink any alcohol or take any drugs before driving: not a drop, not a drag. See Brake's advice below.

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive, Brake, said: "It is encouraging to see an increase in vital drink drive enforcement over the festive period and fewer arrests. However drink driving remains one of the biggest killers on our roads and we have some way to go before we persuade all drivers to commit to never driving after drinking. People who persist in drink driving needlessly put the lives of others at grave risk and too often cause crashes that devastate families and communities, all for the sake of a drink. The police do great work catching these irresponsible drivers, but the government needs to give them the backing they need to do their job, by making traffic policing a national priority and adopting a zero tolerance limit. The message needs to be clear: it should be none for the road."

Read about Brake's 'not a drop, not a drag' campaign.

Facts
One in six deaths on UK roads are caused by drink drivers over the current legal limit [3], but drivers with even 20-50mg alcohol per 100ml of blood are at least three times more likely to die in a crash than those with no alcohol in their blood [4]. This is because even small amounts of alcohol affect drivers' reaction times, judgment and co-ordination. Alcohol also makes it impossible for drivers to assess their own impairment because it creates a false sense of confidence and means drivers are more inclined to take risks and believe they are in control when they are not [5].

Brake's advice
Even very small amounts of alcohol affect drivers' reaction times and hazard perception, making them much more likely to crash. This is the case even if the driver doesn't feel drunk or even tipsy. So the only way to ensure you're safe if you're driving this festive season is not drink any alcohol before driving, and never drive the morning after having more than one or two drinks. And as a passenger, only accept a lift with a driver who's had no alcohol at all.

Planning ahead to get home safely will help you avoid getting into an awkward or risky situation, such as having to refuse a lift from a driver who has had alcohol. If you're getting a lift back from a night out with someone, make sure they are 100% on board with not having any alcohol at all. Always have a plan B just in case a designated driver lets you down, or arrange from the outset to get a taxi or public transport instead.

Calls for government action
Brake calls for a zero tolerance limit of 20mg alcohol per 100ml of blood, to send a clear message that it should be none for the road. This allows for naturally occurring alcohol in the body, and is a limit set by numerous other countries including Sweden, Poland and Greece. The EU recommends a limit of no more than 50mg, and within the EU only Malta shares the UK's limit of 80mg alcohol. Governments in Scotland and Northern Ireland have announced intentions to reduce their limits to 50mg alcohol per 100ml blood. In Northern Ireland, newly qualified drivers and commercial drivers will have a zero tolerance limit of 20mg.

Brake
Brake is an independent road safety charity. Brake exists to stop the five deaths and 63 serious injuries that happen on UK roads every day and to care for families bereaved and seriously injured in road crashes. Brake runs awareness-raising campaigns, community education programmes, events such as Road Safety Week (17-23 November 2014), and a Fleet Safety Forum, providing advice to companies. Brake's support division cares for road crash victims through a helpline and other services.

Road crashes are not accidents; they are devastating and preventable events, not chance mishaps. Calling them accidents undermines work to make roads safer, and can cause insult to families whose lives have been torn apart by needless casualties.

End notes
[1] Christmas party-goers urged to help save lives by standing up to 'designated drivers' who drink, as survey shows we're still too timid, Brake, 10 December 2013
[2] Huge roads policing cuts put public at risk, warns charity, Brake, 23 January 2012
[3] Reported Road Casualties in Great Britain: 2012 Annual Report, Department for Transport, 2013
[4] National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, 2010. Review of effectiveness of laws limiting blood alcohol concentration levels to reduce alcohol-related road injuries and deaths, London: National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence
[5] ibid

Brake’s Roads to Justice campaigners hand in petitions at Downing Street calling for stronger criminal driving laws

25 October 2016 
news@brake.org.uk

Two families involved in Brake’s Roads to Justice campaign will be heading to London on Thursday to hand over their Change.org petitions, both of which have reached an impressive 100,000 signatures.

Richard and Ceinwen Briddon from West Wales and Lorraine Allaway from Long Preston near Skipton will hand their petitions in to 10 Downing Street as they campaign for tougher criminal driving laws.

Richard and Ceinwen’s daughter Miriam Briddon, a 21-year-old university student, was killed instantly when a drunk driver veered onto her side of the road. The driver was charged with causing death by careless driving while under the influence of alcohol. He was jailed for five years, and will serve just two and a half years in prison.

Lorraine’s husband Robert was killed by a drink-driver while riding his motorbike in the Yorkshire Dales. The driver was two and a half times over the legal blood-alcohol limit and on the wrong side of the road when he hit Robert. He was jailed for four years and eight months, so will be out of prison and free to continue living his life in just two and a half years.

A Brake survey conducted in July 2016 found that 91% of people questioned agreed that drivers on drink or drugs who kill should be charged with manslaughter, which carries a possible life sentence. At present almost half of drivers convicted of killing are not jailed at all [i]. The average prison sentence for a driver who has killed someone is less than four years[ii].

Gary Rae, director of communications and campaigns for Brake, said: “As we have witnessed far too often, there are too many families, like the Allaways and the Briddons, who suffer the loss of a loved one in devastating circumstances, and then witness our judicial system turning their back on them.

“The petition handover shows that the public are behind us, with both petitions gaining a huge amount of support. The Prime Minister has already told us we will be getting a review into criminal driving this year. Her government must now give us a definite timetable for action to avoid any more families suffering terrible injustices.”

Lorraine Allaway said: “I am hoping to get a debate regarding sentences for criminal drivers who kill when I hand over my petition on Thursday. I vowed on the day my husband’s killer was sentenced that I would campaign to get the law changed regarding sentencing of drivers who kill vulnerable road users and I will continue to campaign until the sentencing for these drivers has been changed.”

Richard and Ceinwen Briddon said: “We named the petition ‘A Moment for Miriam’ as we were asking people to take a moment of their time to read about Miriam and to sign our petition. The amount of signatures we received in a just two months was phenomenal. We are truly amazed at how quickly we crossed the 100,000 mark and we are very grateful to everyone that has signed and shared our campaign.

“We will never have justice for Miriam. The present sentencing guidelines and the law is an insult to her life and a disgrace to us left behind to pick up the pieces. When an innocent life is taken, the punishment should reflect the seriousness of the crime. 

“We are calling on the government to review and change the guidelines that determine sentencing of drink drivers that kill.”

[ENDS]

Notes to Editors:

Brake’s director of campaigns and communications Gary Rae will be accompanying Richard and Ceinwen Briddon and Lorraine Allaway for the handover at 2pm on Thursday 27 October, outside No 10 Downing Street.

About Roads to Justice

Deaths and serious injuries on our roads cause terrible suffering every day. Families often suffer three times over: a loved one dies or endures appalling injuries; the offender gets away with a pitiful penalty; and shattered victims fail to get the help and support they need.

Drivers who kill or maim all too often receive lenient sentences. We need the government to redefine criminal driving: drivers who pose a serious threat must face serious charges and serious penalties. We also need solid investment in road-traffic policing, to crack down on dangerous drivers and enforce the law. 

Support for road-crash victims is a grossly under-funded area. When someone dies in a crash, their mum, dad, wife, husband, partner, brother, sister, daughter or son are often left to struggle through their loss alone. We need the government to invest in specialist support, offering prompt and comprehensive help to families when the worst has happened.

That is why Brake launched Roads to Justice, calling for tougher charges and penalties that reflect the suffering caused; investment in road-traffic policing; and for government-funded support for road crash victims whose loved ones have been violently killed or have suffered life-changing injuries. 

About Brake

Brake is a national road safety charity, founded in 1995, that exists to stop the needless deaths and serious injuries that happen on roads every day, make streets and communities safer for everyone, and care for families bereaved and injured in road crashes. Brake promotes road safety awareness, safe and sustainable road use, and effective road safety policies. We do this through national campaignscommunity education, services for road safety professionals and employers, and by coordinating the UK's flagship road safety event every November, Road Safety Week. Brake is a national, government-funded provider of support to families and individuals devastated by road death and serious injury, including through a helpline and support packs.

Follow Brake on TwitterFacebook, or The Brake Blog.

Road crashes are not accidents; they are devastating and preventable events, not chance mishaps. Calling them accidents undermines work to make roads safer, and can cause insult to families whose lives have been torn apart by needless casualties.

[i] Criminal justice system statistics quarterly: December 2014, Ministry of Justice, 2015

[ii] Criminal justice system statistics: motoring pivot table analytical tool for England and Wales, Ministry of Justice, 2015

Charity calls on First Minister to introduce drug drive law

News from Brake

16 March 2017 
news@brake.org.uk

As SNP launches its Spring conference, charity calls for zero-tolerance of drug-driving on Scotland’s roads

Brake, the road safety charity, is calling on the Scottish government to introduce a zero-tolerance policy for drug driving on the nation’s roads.

The call comes as the Scottish National Party opens its annual Spring Conference, in Aberdeen. In 2014, Scotland led the way by introducing a lower limit than the rest of the UK, for drunk-driving (50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood. The rest of the UK retains 80mg limit – higher than all other EU countries except Malta). Brake believes it is now time to take the next step to safe and sober drivers by introducing a similar drug driving law.

Drug driving is a major problem, hampering driver reaction time and encouraging dangerous behaviours that put the individual and other road users at risk.

The latest available UK figures, from 2015, show that 62 fatal crashes were a result of impairment by illicit drugs. In a survey, last year by Brake and Direct Line, 7% of respondents admitted to driving while under the influence of drugs, with over half doing so on a weekly basis.

In 2015, England and Wales introduced a zero tolerance drug driving ban, making it an offence to drive with certain controlled drugs (both illicit and some prescription-only drugs) but this law does not apply to Scotland or Northern Ireland.   

Since the drug driving ban was introduced, drug-driving arrests have soared in police forces across England and Wales. Between March 2015 and April 2016 almost 8,000 people were arrested for the offence and the number of convictions for careless driving under the influence of drugs also rose from 1,039 in 2014 to 1,490 in 2015.

Gary Rae, campaigns director for Brake, said: “As the governing party gathers in Aberdeen, I want to send the First Minister a clear message that her government needs to root out dangerous and potentially deadly driving by introducing a drug-driving law. There’s evidence that the law is working in the other nations of the UK and will work in Scotland.”

ENDS

Notes to editors

Here’s Brake’s ‘fact checker’ on drug-driving at the wheel: http://www.brake.org.uk/info-and-resources/facts-advice-research/road-safety-facts/15-facts-a-resources/facts/482-drug-driving-an-overview

Brake’s advice on drug driving and taking legal medication

It’s not just illegal drugs that make you unsafe to drive. Some medicines, such as strong pain killers and anti-depressants, are extremely dangerous to drive on. Even over-the-counter medicines such as some hay fever medication can impair your driving.

When taking any medicine, always check the label to see if it will affect your ability to drive. If you are unsure, consult your doctor or pharmacist. Never drive if the label or a health professional says your driving might be affected or if you feel drowsy or slow.

If your medication can affect driving, stop driving, not your medication – make arrangements for alternative transport. Or if you need to continue driving, seek alternative medication. 

About Brake

Brake is a national road safety charity, founded in 1995, that exists to stop the needless deaths and serious injuries that happen on roads every day, make streets and communities safer for everyone, and care for families bereaved and injured in road crashes. Brake promotes road safety awareness, safe and sustainable road use, and effective road safety policies. We do this through national campaignscommunity education, services for road safety professionals and employers, and by coordinating the UK's flagship road safety event every November, Road Safety Week. Brake is a national, government-funded provider of support to families and individuals devastated by road death and serious injury, including through a helpline and support packs.

Follow Brake on TwitterFacebook, or The Brake Blog.

Road crashes are not accidents; they are devastating and preventable events, not chance mishaps. Calling them accidents undermines work to make roads safer, and can cause insult to families whose lives have been torn apart by needless casualties. 

Convictions up, but shocking numbers still drug-driving

29 February 2016 

news@brake.org.uk

As the Department for Transport confirms a six-fold increase in the number of people caught drug-driving, we can reveal huge numbers of drivers and passengers are still taking dangerous risks when it comes to drugs. 

The survey by Brake, the road safety charity, and Direct Line reveals a shocking one in 16 drivers (6%) admit they drive at least once a month after having taken drugs.

The release of these figures comes a year after the introduction of new drug-drive laws designed to make it easier for police to catch criminal drivers. In the 12 months since the law change, there has been a six-fold increase[i] in the number of convictions for drug-driving nationally, but some individual police forces have seen their arrest rates go up by 800%.

On 2 March 2015 it became an offence in England and Wales to drive with even small amounts of 17 legal and illegal drugs in your system, including cannabis, cocaine, ecstasy and ketamine. The law removed the need to prove the driver was “impaired” and set the levels so low, it effectively brought in a zero tolerance when it comes to drug-driving. The offence carries an automatic 12-month driving ban, a fine of up to £5,000 and a prison sentence of up to six months.[ii]

The change in the law coincided with the introduction of new roadside drug testing kits that are used by the police to detect even tiny amounts of the most commonly used drugs: cannabis and cocaine.

Brake and Direct Line’s survey also found one in 12 people (8%) thought they had probably or definitely been a passenger, in the last year, in a car driven by someone who had taken drugs. Worryingly, one in six people (16%) said they would get in a car with a drug driver.

The latest official road safety figures available show 47 road deaths and 197 serious injuries in 2014 were caused when a driver was impaired by some kind of drugs. This was up from 21 deaths and 181 serious injuries in 2013.[iii] But some estimates suggest around 200 people a year are killed on Britain’s roads by drivers on drugs.

Read more here about how different drugs can affect a person’s driving.

Alice Bailey, campaigns advisor for Brake, the road safety charity, said: “The hundreds of extra convictions over the last 12 months prove just how overdue this law change was. Different drugs have different effects, some slowing reaction times, others making drivers over confident and more likely to take risks, but they all have the potential to make drivers a danger to themselves and all other road users. The government must make sure the police have the necessary resources to carry out these tests and keep catching dangerous drug drivers who risk killing themselves or someone else.”

Rob Miles, director of car insurance at Direct Line, said: “The significant increase in drug-driving convictions since the change in the law last year should serve as a serious deterrent to those considering getting behind the wheel after taking drugs. This is testament to how, when road safety issues are given due prominence, positive change can be achieved.”

 

Case Study

14-year-old Lillian Groves was knocked down and killed by a speeding driver who had taken cannabis. Her killer was jailed for just eight months but was released after just eight weeks. Her family campaigned for the Government to introduce roadside drug testing devices, and still campaigns for the tougher sentences for those found guilty of drug-driving.

Lillian’s aunt, Michaela Groves, said: "These latest figures show that drug driving is a real problem, putting many lives at risk. All the hard work is making a difference but I fear this is just the tip of the iceberg. It is expected these figures will continue to increase year on year as the drug-drive law becomes embedded nationally. I’m concerned there won't be any real change in driver behaviour until we start seeing the punishments and sentences for drug-driving as harsh as they can be. Therefore we must make the message very clear - if you drive after taking drugs, you will be banned for a long time, at least two years; and if you kill someone after taking drugs and then driving, you will be jailed for 14 years and in addition to this will receive a criminal record. I also would like to see drug-drive education become part of the driving test so young people understand the dangers when they first get behind the wheel."

Audio from Michaela available on request

Take action: Make the Brake Pledge to never drive after taking drugs or drinking any alcohol, plan ahead on nights out so everyone gets home safely, and speak out if a friend is drug-driving.

 

Full survey results

Q1: In the past year, have you driven after taking illegal drugs?

7% of drivers report having driven in the past year after having taken illegal drugs.

•           Once a week or more             3%

•           About once a month               3%

•           Less than once a month         1%

•           No, never                                93%

Q2: Within the past year, have you been a passenger with a driver who has taken illegal drugs or may still be affected by taking them?

One in five people (18%) might have been a passenger in a car driven by a person on drugs in the past year.

•           Definitely                     3%

•           Probably                      5%                  

•           Possibly/don’t know    10%

•           Definitely not               82%

Q3: If you had been relying on a designated driver to drive you home, and then found out that they had been taking drugs, would you get in?

One in six people would get into the car with a designated driver who they knew had taken drugs.

•           Yes, probably, no matter what the circumstances     3%

•           Yes, but only if they seemed safe to drive                 13%                

•           No, definitely not                                                         84%

 

Notes to Editors:

For interview opportunities with Brake and Michaela Groves, please contact Brake by email on news@brake.org.uk

Brake urges all drivers to make theBrake Pledgeto never drive after taking drugs or drinking any alcohol, plan ahead on nights out so everyone gets home safely, and speak out if a friend is drug-driving.

About Brake

Brake is a national road safety charity, founded in 1995, that exists to stop the needless deaths and serious injuries that happen on roads every day, make streets and communities safer for everyone, and care for families bereaved and injured in road crashes. Brake promotes road safety awareness, safe and sustainable road use, and effective road safety policies. We do this through national campaignscommunity education, services for road safety professionals and employers, and by coordinating the UK's flagship road safety event every November, Road Safety Week. Brake is a national, government-funded provider of support to families and individuals devastated by road death and serious injury, including through a helpline and support packs.

Follow Brake on TwitterFacebook, or The Brake Blog.

Road crashes are not accidents; they are devastating and preventable events, not chance mishaps. Calling them accidents undermines work to make roads safer, and can cause insult to families whose lives have been torn apart by needless casualties.

About Direct Line

Started in 1985, Direct Line became the first UK insurance company to use the telephone as its main channel of communication. It provides motor, home, travel and pet insurance cover direct to customers by phone or online.

Direct Line general insurance policies are underwritten by UK Insurance Limited, Registered office: The Wharf, Neville Street, Leeds LS1 4AZ. Registered in England and Wales No 1179980. UK Insurance Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.

Direct Line and UK Insurance limited are both part of Direct Line Insurance Group plc.

Customers can find out more about Direct Line products or get a quote by calling 0345 246 3761 or visiting www.directline.com


[i] http://www.pacts.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/160211-Feb-2016.pdf

[ii] http://think.direct.gov.uk/drug-driving.html

[iii] https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/road-accidents-and-safety-statistics, Table number RAS50001

 

 

David Burrowes, MP for Enfield Southgate, February 2013

David Burrowes_MPDavid Burrowes, MP for Enfield Southgate, has been given a national road safety award by the charity Brake and Direct Line Group for his work campaigning for stronger sentences for dangerous drugged and drunk drivers. David has been named Road Safety Parliamentarian of the Month for his work campaigning for tougher penalties for drivers who kill and maim since 2005.

David took up the campaign from his predecessor Stephen Twigg MP shortly after being elected, at the request of constituents the Galli-Atkinson family. Livia Galli-Atkinson was knocked down and killed age 16 while walking on a pavement in Enfield in 1998. In 2010, the campaign celebrated its first national success when the government announced the maximum sentence for dangerous driving was to be increased from two years’ imprisonment to five.

Most recently, the government has promised to look into automatically prosecuting drunk or drugged drivers who kill for an offence that carries up to 14 years in prison. Currently the CPS has to prove that driving was ‘careless’ independently from proving that it was impaired by drink or drugs in order to prosecute under this offence. The government has undertaken to change the law if evidence is presented to demonstrate killer drivers are being let off on lesser charges with much lower sentences. In addition the government is bringing in a new offence of driving with drugs in the body, which should also make it easier to prosecute drivers on drugs.

David was also active in a successful campaign to create a separate offence of causing serious injury by dangerous driving. The new offence was announced in October 2011 and came into effect in December 2012. It carries a maximum penalty of five years’ imprisonment.

David originally attempted to increase the penalties for drivers who caused serious injuries in 2006, by introducing an amendment to the Road Safety Bill. Since then he has campaigned locally and asked questions in Parliament as part of the campaign, which eventually saw success in the Legal Aid, Sentencing, and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012.

Julie Townsend, Brake deputy chief executive, said: “Appropriate sentences for drivers who endanger others, kill or maim are vital in ensuring there is a strong deterrent against taking risks on the road, and in ensuring justice is done on behalf of the victims. Tough penalties send a strong message that our society will not tolerate the awful suffering caused by drink and drug driving and other selfish behaviour at the wheel. David Burrowes has worked tirelessly to make sure the penalties for risky and destructive driving match the seriousness of the offences, and we are pleased to present him this award in recognition of the progress his campaign has achieved.”  

David Burrowes, MP for Enfield Southgate, said: "I have become involved in campaigning for road safety due to the tireless efforts of the Galli-Atkinson family who deserve most credit. When one campaign ends so another begins. Whilst there has been significant progress in changing legislation to reflect the severity of cases of deaths caused by driving there are still gaps. We now need to get the evidence of cases where drivers who kill whilst impaired through drink or drugs have got away with a lesser conviction just for driving whilst over the prescribed limit for drugs or alcohol."

About Brake

Brake
Brake is an independent road safety charity. Brake exists to stop the five deaths and 66 serious injuries that happen on UK roads every day and to care for families bereaved and seriously injured in road crashes. Brake runs awareness-raisingcampaignscommunity education programmes, events such as Road Safety Week (18-24 November 2013), and a Fleet Safety Forum, providing advice to companies. Brake’s support division cares for road crash victims through a helpline and other services.

Road crashes are not accidents; they are devastating and preventable events, not chance mishaps. Calling them accidents undermines work to make roads safer, and can cause insult to families whose lives have been torn apart by needless casualties.

Direct Line Insurance Group plc

Direct Line Insurance Group plc (Direct Line Group) is headquartered in Bromley, Kent; it has operations in the UK, Germany and Italy.

Through its number of well known brands Direct Line Group offers a wide range of general insurance products to consumers. These brands include; Direct Line, Churchill and Privilege. It also offers insurance services for third party brands through its Partnerships division. In the commercial sector, its NIG and Direct Line for Business operations provide insurance products for businesses via brokers or direct respectively.

In addition to insurance services, Direct Line Group continues to provide support and reassurance to millions of UK motorists through its Green Flag breakdown recovery service and TRACKER stolen vehicle recovery and telematics business.

Driver advice: drink and drug-driving

sober2

Drivers can Pledge to never driving after drinking any alcohol or drugs – not a drop, not a drag.

Everyone can Pledge to – plan ahead and make sure they, and anyone they’re with, can get home safely, never get a lift with drink or drug-drivers and speak out if someone’s about to drive on drink or drugs.

Not a drop, not a drag

Even very small amounts of alcohol or drugs affect your driving and could cause a devastating crash. To keep yourself and others safe, never drink any alcohol or take any illegal drugs before driving: not a drop, not a drag.

soberpicJust one small drink impairs your coordination, slows reactions and distorts judgement. You may feel fine, but your driving will be affected, which can easily lead to a crash that could end or ruin your life or someone else’s. Your ability to drive safely is affected when you’re still well under the UK drink drive limit of 80mg alcohol per 100ml blood. With just 20-50mg of alcohol per 100ml blood, your risk of being in a serious crash is three times greater than when you’re sober.

Cannabis affects your coordination and reactions, and makes you drowsy. Drugs like ecstasy, speed, cocaine and many legal highs can make you jumpy, paranoid, confused and overconfident. All these effects dramatically impact on your ability to drive safely.

Drugs and alcohol is an especially deadly combination.

Plan ahead

Always make sure you have a safe way to get home if you’re going out drinking, on foot if there’s a safe route, or by public transport or taxi. Planning ahead to get home safely will help you avoid getting into an awkward or risky situation, such as having to refuse a lift from a driver who has had alcohol. Leaving the decision until the pub, when you've already been drinking, is looking for trouble.

If you're getting a lift back from a night out with someone, make sure they are 100% on board with not having any alcohol at all. Always have a plan B just in case a designated driver lets you down, or if you’re not confident arrange from the outset to get a taxi or public transport instead.

Speak out

joint

You don't have to be confrontational to speak out to someone who’s thinking about drink or drug driving. You can talk to them in a friendly way, explaining why it's a bad idea to get behind the wheel. You could offer to call them a taxi, walk them to the bus stop or walk them home. If they are insistent on driving you might have to be more firm, take their keys or even call the police.

Drink driving is a serious offence with very serious consequences, which you want your friends and family to avoid. Not only could they end up losing their licence, they are putting themselves, their passengers and other road users at great risk of serious harm.

The morning after

Make sure you've completely got rid of any alcohol or drugs from your system before driving. Many drink and drug drivers are caught the next day. Drinking coffee, sleeping, or having a shower don’t help you sober up, only time.

As a rough guide, it takes at least one hour for the body to process each unit of alcohol. You should count the hours from the time you finished your last drink, but over-estimate as it could take longer depending on lots of factors. If you have to drive the next morning, limit yourself to no more than one or two drinks, and bear in mind that if you have a heavy night you could be impaired all of the next day.

See Brake’s factsheet on drink-driving for information on alcohol content of drinks and how long it takes to sober up or use Brake’s morning after calculator for an estimate of when you’ll be safe to drive after drinking.

Medication

It’s not just illegal drugs that make you unsafe to drive. Some medicines, such as strong pain killers and anti-depressants, are extremely dangerous to drive on. Even over-the-counter medicines such as some hayfever medication can impair your driving.

When taking any medicine, always check the label to see if it will affect your ability to drive. If you are unsure, consult your doctor or pharmacist. Never drive if the label or a health professional says your driving might be affected or if you feel drowsy or slow.

If your medication can affect driving, stop driving, not your medication – make arrangements for alternative transport. Or if you need to continue driving, seek alternative medication. 

ashleybrixey

Ashley's story
Ashley Brixey died in a car driven by his friend who had been drinking and taking drugs.

Ashley went out on a Saturday night. At the end of the night, he got into the back of a car. A 17 year-old girl got into the passenger seat and Ashley’s friend Richard got behind the wheel.

Richard was twice over the drink-drive limit and had taken drugs. He lost control on a bend. The car went up an embankment, through a fence and landed upside down in a swimming pool. The girl and the driver got out but Ashley was knocked unconscious.

By the time the emergency services got there he was already dead. 

Link to Barbara's story video

Watch Barbara's story. A drunk and drugged driver crashed into her car. She suffered full penetrative burns. Visit Brake's Youtube channel for more videos.

 


Page updated June 2015

Driving for Zero

Campaigning for zero tolerance of impaired driving

Driving for Zero is Brake's campaign for zero tolerance of impaired driving. It tackles issues relating to alcohol and drugs calling for "none for the road". It also tackles driver tiredness, poor vision and other impairments relating to health. 

One in eight deaths on British roads still involves a driver over the alcohol limit [1], and in 2015 arrests for drug driving soared after a new law enabled police to arrest people who tested positive to illegal and some legal drugs. Many more drivers are impaired by tiredness, poor vision and ill health.

What are we calling for?

Driving for Zero aims to save lives through evidence-led, legislative interventions, including:

  • a lowering of the drink drive limit to an effective zero tolerance level across the UK
  • an extension, to Scotland and N. Ireland, of the England and Wales law prohibiting drug driving
  • compulsory eyesight tests for drivers
  • rigorous enforcement of laws relating to impairment, including driving hours, and tough penalties for offenders

We are also working to

  • Tackle impairment within commercial fleets, including driver health checks and technology that prevents and warns of impaired driving.
  • Educate law-abiding drivers about how to avoid low-level driver impairment, which can also cause crashes

 Take action

Visit our Driving for Zero campaign pages

 

Driving for Zero: facts and campaign updates

Key facts

Vision and ill health – I don’t really have a specific ‘ill-health fact’ bar one for sleep apnoea:

  • Road crashes involving a driver with poor vision are estimated to cause 2,900 casualties and cost £33 million in the UK per year [1].
  • Eyesight can decline gradually and unnoticed, with people losing up to 40% of their visual acuity without being aware of deterioration [2].

Fatigue:

  • Drivers at 6am are 20 times more likely to fall asleep at the wheel than at 10am [3].
  • About 40% of fatigue-related crashes involve commercial vehicle drivers, often in the largest vehicles on our roads that can cause the most harm in a crash [4].  

Alcohol/Drugs:

  • In 2014, 240 people in Great Britain were killed in crashes where at least one driver was over the drink-drive limit, largely unchanged since 2011 [5].
  • Impairment by illegal or medical drugs was officially recorded as a contributory factor in 62 fatal road crashes and 259 crashes resulting in serious injuries in 2015 in Britain [6].

Driver distraction:

  • Drivers who use phones, either hands-free and hand-held, have been found by researchers to be four times more likely to be in a crash resulting in injuries than drivers not distracted [7].
  • A recent survey by Brake and Direct Line revealed a third of drivers admit to eating at the wheel and one in 10 suffered a near-miss because they were distracted by food while driving [8].

Campaign Updates

Charity welcomes tougher penalties for mobile phone use behind the wheel, 1/3/2017

 

Return to our driving for zero campaign page or visit our Driving for Zero campaign pages on these themes and more

Alcohol & Drugs 

Phones and devices

Tiredness

Vision and ill health    

End Notes.

[1] Fit to Drive: a cost benefit analysis of more frequent eyesight testing for UK drivers, RSA Insurance Group plc, overview available on the Road Safety Observatory, 2012

[2] Assessment of fitness to drive: a guide for medical professionals, DVLA, 2016

[3] PACTS, Staying awake, staying alive: the problem of fatigue in the transport sector, 2014

[4] Flatley, D. & Rayner, L. et al, Sleep-Related Crashes on Sections of Different Road Types in the UK (1995–2001), 2004

[5] DfT,Reported road casualties in Great Britain: Estimates for accidents involving illegal alcohol levels: 2014 (final) and 2015 (provisional),  2016

[6] Department for Transport, 2016, Reported road casualties in Great Britain 2015, table RAS50001

[7] Role of mobile phones in motor vehicle crashes resulting in hospital attendance: a case-crossover study, University of Western Australia, 2005

[8] Eating at the Wheel, Brake and Direct Line Survey, 2016

Drug driving

Dtec International Limited is pleased to sponsor this page.

sober2strap

Key facts:

• Impairment by illegal or medical drugs was officially recorded as a contributory factor in 62 fatal road crashes and 259 crashes resulting in serious injuries in 2015 in Britain [1], but experts estimate the true figure could be much higher;
• One in six bodies of dead drivers (18%) and 16% of the bodies of dead motorcyclists were found to have illegal drugs in their bodies, in research commissioned by the Department for Transport published in 2001. About 6% of dead drivers and dead motorcyclists had taken medicines that could have affected their driving [2];
• One in six (17%) of 1,396 randomly-tested Glasgow drivers in 2005 had taken at least one illegal drug, with the most common being MDMA and cannabis [3];
• After extensive campaigning by Brake and others, in 2015, legislation came into force in England and Wales, banning driving on certain listed illegal and prescription drugs (previously it was only a crime if there was evidence of impaired driving) [4]. Similar laws have not yet been adopted in Scotland or Northern Ireland;
• The new law’s enforcement requires use of type-approved testing devices. However, at present, type approval has only been given to devices able to identify just two of the drugs listed as illegal to drive on (cannabis and cocaine) [5]. There is no type-approved testing device for MDMA as yet;
• Despite this limitation, between March 2015 and April 2016, almost 8,000 people were arrested for drug-driving in England and Wales [6];
• There is evidence that police are able to target effectively who they drug screen. During the one-month Christmas 2015 drink and drug drive campaign, 1,888 targeted drug screening tests were carried out in England and Wales, and nearly 50% were positive [7].
Many illegal and medicinal drugs seriously impair driving ability. In Britain, impairment by illegal or medical drugs was recorded as a contributory factor in at least 62 fatal road crashes and 259 serious injuries in 2015 [8]. Experts have estimated the true figure could be much higher.

Illegal drugs: prevalence among drivers

In research carried out in 2005 in Glasgow, 1,396 drivers were stopped at random and asked to participate voluntarily in a saliva test. One in six (17%) tested positive for at least one drug. In 85% of cases, one drug had been taken, with the most common drugs being MDMA (ecstasy) (more than 4% of those tested) and cannabis (more than 3% of those tested). The research was part of the EU-funded IMMORTAL project (Impaired Motorists, Methods of Roadside Testing and Assessment for Licensing) [9].

Self-admission rates in surveys are predictably lower, but still at very significant levels. A Brake and Direct Line 2016 survey found 7% of drivers surveyed admitted driving on illegal drugs in the past year (with nearly half of these saying they do it weekly or more), and one in five think they may have been a passenger with a driver on drugs. One in seven (16%) say they wouldn't always speak out to stop a friend driving on drugs [10].

Illegal drugs and rising prevalence in bodies of dead drivers

UK government-commissioned research by TRL (the Transport Research Laboratory), published in 2001, found illegal drugs (with the most common being cannabis) in the bodies of 18% of drivers and 16% of motorcyclists (out of more than 1,000 drivers who died in road crashes) [11].
This study was a repeat of a study carried out by TRL looking at dead drivers in the 1980s; that earlier study had found evidence of illegal drug use in the bodies of only 3% of drivers.
This useful research has unfortunately not been repeated more recently by the government.

Effects of illegal drugs

The effects of illegal drugs can be highly unpredictable. However there are a number of adverse effects on driving ability [12].

Effects of drugs most commonly found in the systems of British drug drivers

Cannabis: This slows reactions; affects concentration; often gives a sedative-like effect, resulting in fatigue; affects co-ordination [13]. Research using driver simulators has found cannabis makes drivers less able to steer accurately and slower to react to another vehicle pulling out [14].

MDMA (ecstasy): This makes the heart beat faster, which can cause a surge of adrenaline and result in a driver feeling over-confident and taking risks. Short-term risks can also include anxiety, panic attacks, confused episodes, paranoia or even psychosis, all of which can have a negative impact on drivers [15].

Cocaine: This causes over-confidence and can cause erratic behaviour. After a night out using cocaine, people may feel like they have flu, feel sleepy and lack concentration [16].

Other drugs and their effects:

Dissociative drugs: Common ones are ketamine and PCP. These can cause muscle paralysis; hallucinations; confusion, agitation, panic attacks; and memory impairment [17].

Hallucinogens: Most common ones are LSD (Acid) and magic mushrooms (psilocybin). Can speed up or slow down time and movement, making the speed of other vehicles difficult to judge. Causes colours, sounds and objects to appear distorted. They can cause disorientation, confusion, panic, fatigue and nausea [18] [19].

Amphetamines and methamphetamines: This includes speed (and more powerful versions including ice (crystal meth)). These drugs make people feel wide awake and excited, causing erratic behaviour and risk-taking; and can make people panicky. Users have difficulty sleeping, so will also be tired for days [20].

Opiates: This includes heroin and opium. They have a sedative affect, slowing reaction times, causing inappropriate responses, reduced coordination and reduced ability to think clearly. They cause blurred vision and drowsiness, nausea and vomiting. [21]

Illegal drugs and estimates of how much they increase crash risk

Some studies have sought to identify the risk rate of drug drivers being involved in fatal or serious crashes. 

A study of fatal crashes in France between 2001 and 2003 concluded cannabis almost doubles the risk of being involved in a fatal crash [22]. Analysis of road crash hospital admissions in Canada between 2009 and 2011 found cannabis use increases the risk of being involved in a serious crash by four times [23].

The EU-commissioned “DRUID” research programme into the risks found fatal or serious injury crash risk increased by:
• 2 times for drivers on cannabis;
• 16 times for drivers on cannabis combined with alcohol;
• 2-10 times for drivers on cocaine or opiates;
• 5-30 times for drivers on amphetamines [24].
Separate studies have found MDMA to be impairing when driving [25].

Combining illegal drugs with alcohol increases risk: analysis of fatal crashes in the USA found drivers who have consumed both are 23 times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than sober drivers [26].

Medicinal drugs

Many prescription and over-the-counter medications impair ability to drive safely, for instance causing drowsiness, affecting reaction times, coordination, concentration or vision.

Warnings on medication can be vague or in small print only. They may indicate there is a risk of impairment but not relate it to driving. They may leave it to the user to judge their own level of impairment (which can be hard).

In some countries, warning labels are required to be more obvious and give clearer advice on driving. For example, in Australia medications are legally required to display a visible warning label if a driver can be affected [27].

Effects of medicinal drugs

Medical drugs that can impair driving include some cough and cold medicines, anti-inflammatories, anti-histamines, antibiotics, antidepressants, epilepsy drugs and sleeping pills.

Many drivers are unaware: a Brake and Direct Line survey found three in 10 drivers (30%) are unaware some hay fever and allergy medications can impair driving, more than half (53%) are unaware of the risks of decongestants and four in 10 (40%) don’t know cough medicines can impair driving [28].

Among hay fever medications, earlier varieties of anti-histamines are known to cause drowsiness, and some impair coordination and reaction times in a similar manner to alcohol [29]. Second- and third-generation antihistamines have also been found to cause drowsiness in some people [30].

Prevalence among drivers

A survey by Brake and Direct Line found one in six (17%) UK drivers admit either ignoring warnings that medication can cause side effects that could impair their driving ability, or not checking labels for such warnings. Almost half (44%) of drivers who use hay fever medication admit sometimes or never checking the instructions to see if it will affect their driving ability [31].
Medicinal drugs and crash risk

UK government-commissioned research by TRL (the Transport Research Laboratory), published in 2001, found 5% of drivers and 4% of motorcyclists who died in road crashes had taken medicines that could have affected their driving [32].

A Norwegian study found the risk of being involved in a road crash doubled or tripled, depending on the type of drug, for up to seven days after being prescribed medicinal drugs (including opiates, tranquillizers, hypnotics, anti-inflammatory drugs and penicillin), with a marked increase in users prescribed opiate painkillers and some tranquilizers [33].

Research from New Zealand found drivers who have taken any psychoactive illegal or medical drugs (such as some medicines used to treat bipolar disorder) are more than three times more likely to be at fault in collisions than sober drivers [34].

Learn more: Read the Brake and Direct Line Fit to drive report.

The law

In the UK, it is an offence to drive impaired by drugs.

In England and Wales, it is also an offence (since 2015 under the Crime and Courts Act) to drive with certain controlled drugs listed under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 in your system. These basically comprise the most commonly taken illicit drugs plus some prescription-only drugs. This law does not apply in Scotland nor Northern Ireland.

Police can stop and test any driver they suspect of being on drugs, and may also test if a driver is stopped for another offence, or if they are involved in a crash.

The illegal drugs banned are: cannabis, cocaine, MDMA, LSD (acid), methamphetamines (ice (crystal meth)), ketamine, and heroin. The limits for these drugs are extremely low; effectively zero tolerance.

Medicinal drugs are banned at certain levels. Drugs banned include benzodiazepine tranquillizers at the following levels: diazepam 550ug/L, clonazepam 50ug/L, temazepam 1,000ug/L, flunitrazepam (commonly known as rohypnol) 300ug/L, lorazepam 100ug/L and oxazepam 300ug/L.

Methadone (commonly prescribed to opiate addicts) is banned at 500ug/L. The painkiller morphine is also banned at 80ug/L.

Amphetamine is also listed as a banned substance, either as a medicinal or illicit drug depending on use.

The limits for medical drugs are set at level where they are thought to begin to affect driving, as advised by a panel of medical experts [35].

The need for type-approved testing devices that detect more drugs

The law is reliant on police having access to drug testing devices that are “type approved” to test for a particular drug. Police do not have access to such devices to test for most of the drugs covered in the law.

In March 2015 devices that can test only two of the 17 drugs featured in the Act (cannabis and cocaine) were given type approval for use in roadside drug screening [36].

Experts have argued that the most important priority is for a drug testing device to be approved that identifies drivers using ecstasy (MDMA). Dr Rob Tunbridge, co-author of the 2001 TRL report showing prevalence of illegal drugs in dead drivers, says: “As a first step, roadside screening devices need approval for testing of MDMA. Along with cannabis and cocaine, all social survey and epidemiological evidence suggests that these three drugs represent the major problem for drug driving in GB.” [37]

Rise in drug detection and convictions since March 2015 in England and Wales

However, even with screening limited to cannabis and cocaine testing, there has been a huge rise in detection of drug drivers by police in England and Wales since the new law’s introduction in March 2015.

Arrests have soared in different police force areas by up to 800% since the law has been introduced [38].
Between March 2015 and April 2016, almost 8,000 people were arrested for drug-driving in England and Wales according to a Freedom of Information answer provided to the BBC by the government [39].

During the Christmas 2015 drink and drug drive campaign alone, 1,888 targeted drug screening tests were carried out in one month across England and Wales, and nearly 50% were positive [40].

Conviction data is beginning to emerge. Information held by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency in February 2016 showed at least 619 drivers were convicted of the new offences of driving, or being in charge of a vehicle, with a drug in their system above the specified limit in 2015. Together with convictions for driving, or being in charge of a vehicle, while unfit through drugs (more than 800 convictions) and convictions for death by careless driving while unfit through drugs (3) this meant convictions for drug driving offences (known to the DVLA at the time of the provided information) rose from 1,039 in 2014 to 1,490 in 2015 [41].

Time line of how the law changed in England and Wales

2003: The government implemented the Railways and Transport Safety Act (RATS) [42] which allowed for roadside testing for drugs using “type approved” devices that test saliva or sweat. However, at that time no such type approved devices were available to police, who were reliant on “field impairment testing” (FIT) (which sets tests for a suspected driver (such as walk in a straight line) and only indicates impairment rather than provides proof).

2010: Sir Peter North published a Review of Drink and Drug Driving Policy. [43] North and a House of Commons Transport Select Committee concluded that drug screening of drivers should be introduced as soon as practically possible.

2012: An ‘expert’ panel was set up to consider the technical aspects of introducing an offence of driving after taking illegal drugs and the possibility of identifying impairing levels for these drugs.

2013: Expert panel recommended limits. [44] The panel's evidence was based partly on the Pan European study DRUID (DRiving Under the Influence of Drugs, alcohol and medicines) [45]

2013: The Crime and Courts Act made it illegal in England and Wales (not Scotland nor Northern Ireland) for “driving or being in charge of a motor vehicle with a concentration of a specified drug above a specified limit.”[46]

2014: Limits for drugs were specified under The Drug Driving (Specified Limits) (England and Wales) Regulations 2014 [47]

2015 (March): Limits specified and the law is applied. Devices that can test only two of the 17 drugs featured in the Act (cannabis and cocaine) were given type approval for use in roadside drug screening.

Penalties

Following the introduction of the new legislation in England and Wales in 2015, drivers caught and convicted of drug-driving can receive a minimum 12-month driving ban; a criminal record; and a fine of up to £5,000, or up to 6 months in prison, or both. The penalty for causing death by dangerous driving under the influence of drugs is a maximum prison sentence of 14 years.
A drug-drive conviction can also make it harder to gain employment, increases car insurance costs and causes difficulty when gaining a visa to travel abroad to certain countries, for example the USA. [48]


End notes

[1] Department for Transport, 2016, Reported road casualties in Great Britain 2015, table RAS50001
[2] Transport Research Laboratory, 2001, The Incidence of Drugs and Alcohol in Road Accident Fatalities, report no. 495
[3] Assum T, Mathijssen MP, Houwing S, Buttress SC, Sexton B, Tunbridge RJ and Oliver J., 2005, The prevalence of drug driving and relative risk estimations. A study conducted in The Netherlands, Norway and United Kingdom. IMMORTAL EU research project, Deliverable D-R4.2. 2005. Final programme report
[4] gov.uk The Drug Driving (Specified Limits) (England and Wales) Regulations 2014
[5] Tunbridge, R, 2016, The preliminary effects of new drug driving legislation in Great Britain, Presentation to the October 2016 Brazil World Rescue Challenge Conference
[6] Freedom of Information request, BBC, 2016
[7] Department for Transport press release, 28 Feb 2016, Drug drive arrests on the rise
[8] Department for Transport, 2015, Reported road casualties Great Britain: Annual report 2014, Table RAS50001
[9] Assum T, Mathijssen MP, Houwing S, Buttress SC, Sexton B, Tunbridge RJ and Oliver J., 2005, The prevalence of drug driving and relative risk estimations. A study conducted in The Netherlands, Norway and United Kingdom. IMMORTAL EU research project, Deliverable D-R4.2. 2005. Final programme report
[10] Brake and Direct Line, 2016, Fit to drive: drug driving
[11] Transport Research Laboratory, 2001, The Incidence of Drugs and Alcohol in Road Accident Fatalities, report no. 495
[12] PACTS, 2016, Fit to Drive?
[13] A-Z of drugs: Cannabis, Talk to Frank, undated
[14] Transport Research Laboratory, 2000, The Influence of Cannabis on Driving
[15] A-Z of drugs: Ecstasy, Talk to Frank, undated
[16] A-Z of drugs: Cocaine, Talk to Frank, undated 
[17] A-Z of drugs: Ketamine, Talk to Frank, undated
[18] A-Z of drugs: LSD, Talk to Frank, undated
[19] A-Z of drugs: Magic mushrooms, Talk to Frank, undated
[20] A-Z of drugs: Speed, Talk to Frank, undated
[21] Alcohol and Drug Foundation, Australia, How does heroin and other opiates affect driving?
[22] British Medical Journal, 2005, Cannabis intoxication and fatal road crashes in France: population based case-control study
[23] University of Toronto, 2013, Cannabis and traffic collision risk
[24] EU DRUID Programme, 2012, DRUID Final Report: work performance, main results and recommendations
[25] Logan BKCouper FJ, 2001. Washington State Toxicology Laboratory, Bureau of Forensic Laboratory Services, Washington State Patrol, Seattle, 2001. 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, ecstasy) and driving impairment.
[26] Columbia University, 2013, Drug use and fatal motor vehicle crashes
[27] Australian pharmaceutical formulary and handbook (21st ed.), Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA), 2009.
[28] Brake and Direct Line, 2014, Fit to drive: medication and driving
[29] University of Utrecht, 2004, Antihistamines and driving ability: evidence from on-the-road driving studies during normal traffic
[30] NHS Choices, 2015, Antihistamines – side effects
[31] Brake and Direct Line, 2014, Fit to drive: medication and driving
[32] Transport Research Laboratory, 2001, The Incidence of Drugs and Alcohol in Road Accident Fatalities, report no. 495
[33] Norwegian Institute of Public Health, 2007, Risk of Road Traffic Accidents Associated With the Prescription of Drugs: A Registry-Based Cohort Study
[34] Queensland University of Technology, 2012, Medications and driving: community knowledge, perceptions and experience
[35] Department for Transport, 2015, Table of drugs and limits
[36] Tunbridge, R, 2016, The preliminary effects of new drug driving legislation in Great Britain, Presentation to the October 2016 Brazil World Rescue Challenge Conference
[37] ibid
[38] Department for Transport press release, 28 Feb 2016, Drug drive arrests on the rise
[39] Freedom of Information Request, BBC, 1 June 2016, Drug driving: almost 8,000 arrests
[40] Department for Transport press release, 28 Feb 2016, Drug drive arrests on the rise
[41] Freedom of Information Request, DVLA, 16 Nov 2016, Number of Drug Driving Convictions
[42] Railways and Transport Safety Act, gov.uk, 2016
[43] Sir Peter North, June 2010, Report of the Review of Drink and Drug Driving Law
[44] Wolff et al., 2013, Driving under the influence of drugs
[45] EU DRUID Programme, 2012, DRUID Final Report: work performance, main results and recommendations
[46] Crime and Courts Act, 2013
[47] The Drug Driving (Specified Limits) (England and Wales) Regulations 2014, gov.uk
[48] Drugs and Driving: the law, Department for Transport, 2016


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Page last updated: December 2016

Gavin Barwell, MP for Croydon Central, May 2012

GBarwellGavin Barwell, MP for Croydon Central, has been awarded a Road Safety Parliamentarian of the Month Award by the charity Brake and Direct Line for his work campaigning for 'Lillian's Law', making it an offence to drive on illegal drugs, and roadside drug screening equipment.

In June 2010 Lillian Groves, 14, was killed outside her home in New Addington by John Page, who had been smoking cannabis. He was convicted of causing her death by careless driving and sentenced to eight months in jail, reduced to four months for an early plea. He was released after just eight weeks.

Her family set up a campaign for calling for a new law making it a specific offence to drive on any amount of illegal drugs and calling for roadside drug screening equipment so police can conduct widespread testing. Currently it is only offence to drive while impaired by drugs, making prosecuting drug drivers difficult.

The Groves family created a petition, and worked with the Croydon Advertiser to rally support. In September 2011 they contacted Gavin Barwell, to ask for his help to push for change in Parliament.

Gavin raised the issue in Prime Minister's Questions in October 2011 and then asked the Prime Minister to meet the Groves. David Cameron accepted and Gavin and the Groves met him in November. The Prime Minister said he was committed to tackling drug driving.

In January the Department for Transport announced a new expert panel would investigate the technical aspects of a law against drug driving including possible drug drive 'limits'. Gavin and the Groves also met Road Safety Minister Mike Penning to discuss the specifics of a new law. They argued that any new law must be zero tolerance, making it illegal to drive on any amount of illegal drugs.

Throughout this period the Groves tirelessly campaigned in the media with support from Brake, appearing on The One Show, Lorraine and BBC Breakfast to raise awareness of the need for a change in the law.

In May's Queen's Speech, the government announced they will pass a new law making it an offence to drive under the influence of drugs in England, Scotland and Wales. Drivers breaking the law will face up to six months in jail, a maximum fine of £5,000 and an automatic driving ban of 12 months. Police will be equipped with handheld drug detector devices, which will take a saliva sample.

Brake welcomed the announcement but urged the government to work quickly to implement the change. Brake also reiterated its endorsement of zero tolerance within the new offence so it is illegal to drive on any amount of illegal drugs. Read Brake's response.

Gavin followed this announcement up with a speech in Parliament urging the government to accelerate the role of the expert panel and introduce legislation as soon as possible.

Julie Townsend, Brake deputy chief executive, said: "Gavin has brought together key players to build momentum in Parliament for this essential campaign to tackle drug driving. His work alongside the family of Lillian Groves has received widespread media coverage and public support. It has helped to raise awareness of the appalling consequences of drug driving as well as successfully push for action by government. Brake is proud to have worked with Gavin and the Groves family on this important campaign, and is pleased to award Gavin a Road Safety Parliamentarian of the Month Award for his efforts."

Gavin Barwell, MP for Croydon Central, said: "I am delighted to receive the award from Brake, and would like to dedicate it to the Groves family, whose campaigning work has been inspirational. This recognition will help to keep attention focused on the dangers of drug driving as we work towards new legislation. Driving under the influence of drugs is under-recognised as a cause of death on our roads, and it is time we made it as unacceptable as drink driving."

Lillian Groves - attached to my heart

 Lillian Groves 2Lillian had just turned 14 years old when her life was taken away and our world had been turned upside down.

She was a beautiful young lady that was just beginning to blossom and bloom, full of energy and life, a real treasure. She had the most beautiful smile something which we miss terribly and a fantastic sense of humour packed with giggles and laughter.

Her lovingness and just her presence of being in the same room bought happiness and pleasure something she will always be remembered for.

Her life was cut short by a speeding driver doing 43mph in a 30mph zone with drugs in his system, who received a low 8 months' prison sentence for the charge of 'death by careless driving' and was told by the judge he would serve just four. Because there is no offence available to the courts of driving with illegal drugs in your system he faced no penalty for smoking cannabis on the day of the crash. 

Our whole family life has been shattered and torn by what this one individual has done.

Lillian is loved and missed by so many it breaks our hearts.

The poem that I’d like to dedicate to Lillian is “The Cord”

We are connected,
My child and I,
By an invisible cord,
Not seen by the eye.

It's not like the cord
That connects us 'til birth
This cord can't be seen
By any on earth.

This cord does its work
Right from the start.
It binds us together
Attached to my heart.

I know that it's there
Though no one can see
The invisible cord
From my child to me.

The strength of this cord
Man could create
It withstands the test
Can hold any weight.

And though you are gone,
Though you're not here with me,
The cord is still there
But no one can see.

It pulls at my heart
I am bruised…. I am sore,
But this cord is my lifeline
As never before.

I am thankful that God
Connects us this way
A mother and child
Death can't take away!


We have now set up a campaign in Lil’s name called "Lillian's Law" calling for Zero Tolerance on Drug Driving.

To watch our story on the BBC news and learn more about our campaign, follow this link:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-14974502

Read more about our story here

Thank you,
Natasha Groves (Lillian’s mum)

Mark Hunter MP for Cheadle, June/July 2009

june09Mark Hunter MP has been working hard campaigning for life-saving road safety measures to tackle the issues of drug driving, uninsured drivers and speeding in the UK.

Over the past few months, Mark has been pressing for the Government to urgently introduce roadside drug testing in order to stop the carnage caused by drug driving. Following a meeting with manufacturers and industry experts, Mark is calling on the Government to step up their efforts to produce a specification for a roadside testing device. Roadside drug screening devices are already used in countries such as Germany, Australia and Finland.

For a factsheet on drug driving, click here. To get involved with Road Safety Week, which this year has the theme ‘Not a Drop, Not a Drag’, click here.

Mark has also been vocal on the issue of uninsured drivers, meeting with Brake to discuss the issue earlier this year prior to a Government consultation on Continuous Enforcement of Motor Insurance.

As well as asking many Parliamentary Questions on the issue of uninsured drivers, Mark focused on this during a House of Commons debate on road safety in June. Mark used the debate to call on the Government to ensure that fines for driving without insurance are more than the cost of insurance. Click here to read a transcript of the debate. As a potential solution to the problem of uninsured drivers, Mark has been investigating the possibility of having a windscreen disk (similar to the car tax disk) for proof of insurance.

Mark has been contacted by his constituents about speeding drivers in his town and actively supports any local proposal to decrease speed limits on their road. He has also raised the issue of 20mph zones in Parliament a number of times, calling on the Government to review the current system for introducing 20mph zones.

Click here to read about Brake’s Watch Out, There’s a Kid About campaign for 20mph speed limits in built-up areas.

Mark says: “I am delighted to have been named Parliamentarian of the month by Brake. Brake’s work on Road Safety is renowned and it’s an honour that they chose me. Road Safety is about saving lives and should therefore be at the forefront of every Parliamentarian’s mind. The Government has failed to tackle the key reasons behind fatalities and injuries on our roads such as drug driving, speeding and uninsured drivers; and I’m dedicated to campaigning for real and lasting change to reduce the number of lives that are wasted in road crashes.”

If you know of a dangerous road in your area, let Brake know by calling our Zak the zebra hotline on 08000 68 77 80, and Brake could help you campaign for road safety improvements.

Myth-busting ‘sober up’ e-learning resource launched to raise awareness on dangers of drink and drug-driving

Thursday 22 January 2015

Brake, the road safety charity
news@brake.org.uk

Brake, the road safety charity, has produced a free interactive e-learning resource to bust myths around drink and drug driving and convey the horrendous risks, particularly geared at young people. ‘Sober up’, developed in partnership with Hitachi Capital Driving Instructor Solutions, can be used by anyone who works with young people or drivers, including: driving instructors; teachers; youth workers; community leaders; employers; and emergency services and road safety professionals.

With young people much more likely to be involved in a drink or drug-drive crash, educational initiatives can be life-saving. Less than one in 11 licence holders is under 25, yet one in four (28%) drink-drive crashes involve a driver of this age [1]. With a new, lower drink drive limit in Scotland and a new drug drive law coming into force across the UK in March, Brake is encouraging to educators, organisations and community leaders to promote the ‘not a drop, not a drag’ message.

This open access resource can be used to facilitate group discussions and present the facts on drink and drug-driving within a lesson, workshop or through online communications. Brake is especially encouraging professionals who work with young people to use the ‘Sober up’ e-learning resource as part of a wider road safety awareness programme, by attending Brake’s low-cost training course on engaging young people.

The launch of this resource comes as the Association of Chief Police Officers and Police Scotland reveal the results of their drink-drive enforcement campaign over the festive period. Police caught 6,236 drivers over the limit in the UK during the four-week targeted campaign. Across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the breathe-test failure rate for under-25s was 6.33%, compared to 3.94% for drivers over that age. In Scotland, the numbers dropped considerably after the introduction of a lower drink drive limit in December. Read more.

It also comes just ahead of the UK’s new law prohibiting driving with drugs in your body coming into force 2 March, which aims to make it easier for police to catch and prosecute drug drivers. Read more.

Access the resource online now at brake.org.uk/soberup.

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive of Brake said:“Drink and drug driving remains one of the biggest causes of devastating road crashes; often young and inexperienced drivers and passengers are involved and frequently they are the tragic victims. However, young people can also be engaged in the fight to stamp out the menace of drink and drug driving. Our new ‘Sober up’ e-learning resource can equip young people with the information they need not only to avoid the dangers of drink and drug driving, but also to speak out against it. It’s a powerful tool that busts common myths and conveys the horrific consequences of drink and drug driving, and it’s freely available to educators, road safety practitioners and employers, to help them raise life-saving awareness.”

Chris Tarry, General Manager at Hitachi Capital Driving Instructor Solutions, said:“It’s important to act responsibly when behind the wheel at any age. Hitachi Capital Driving Instructor Solutions strongly believes prevention is better than cure and early education of the dangers of drinking or taking drugs before driving can make a big difference. As a leading supplier of driving instructor vehicles, we were pleased to sponsor and support Brake’s crucial campaign. It also benefits our customers and the young drivers they teach, instilling responsible behaviour at the very start of their on the road journey.”

The facts
Drink driving remains one of the biggest killers on Britain’s roads with one in six road deaths caused by a drink driver [2], including an estimated 65 deaths caused annually by drivers who have had a drink but are under the limit [3]. One in five drivers who die have illegal drugs in their system [4].

Young people are much more at risk, with one in four (28%) drink drive crashes involving a driver under the age of 25, despite drivers of this age making up just one in 11 licence holders. One in five fatal and serious injury crashes involve a driver under the age of 25 [5].

Read more at www.brake.org.uk/facts.

Brake’s campaigns
Through its not a drop, not a drag campaign, Brake calls on drivers to never drive after drinking any amount of alcohol or drugs and appeals to everyone to look out for friends and family by speaking out against drink and drug-driving. Brake is calling on the government to introduce a zero-tolerance drink drive limit of 20mg per 100ml of blood.

Through its too young to die campaign, Brake is calling for action to reduce young driver crashes and help young people get around safely and sustainably. Young drivers are involved in a huge proportion of road crashes due to a combination of inexperience and a tendency to take risks. Brake calls for graduated driver licensing, with a minimum learning period and post-test restrictions, to allow young people to develop skills and experience while less exposed to danger. Brake also calls for better access to driving alternatives for young people.

About Brake
Brake is a national road safety charity that exists to stop the needless deaths and serious injuries that happen on roads every day, make streets and communities safer for everyone, and care for families bereaved and injured in road crashes. Brake promotes road safety awareness, safe and sustainable road use, and effective road safety policies. We do this through national campaigns, community education, services for road safety professionals and employers, and by coordinating the UK's flagship road safety event every November, Road Safety Week. Brake is a national, government-funded provider of support to families and individuals devastated by road death and serious injury, including through a helpline and support packs. Brake was founded in the UK in 1995, and now has domestic operations in the UK and New Zealand, and works globally to promote action on road safety.

Road crashes are not accidents; they are devastating and preventable events, not chance mishaps. Calling them accidents undermines work to make roads safer, and can cause insult to families whose lives have been torn apart by needless casualties.

Hitachi Capital Driving Instructor Solutions
Hitachi Capital Driving Instructor Solutions is a market leading supplier of new dual-controlled cars to approved driving instructors, provisional instructors and driving schools in Britain. We’re independent so we can provide you with impartial advice to help you make a decision for your business. You’ll get a choice of makes and models to lease thanks to our strong relationships with manufacturers. Plus, different terms and mileage options to suit.

Our aim is to keep you on the road so you can concentrate on running your business and continue to make our roads safer.

End notes
[1] Reported drinking and driving statistics tables 2012, Department for Transport 2013
[2] Reported road casualties Great Britain 2012, Department for Transport 2013
[3] Reducing the BAC limit to 50mg – what can we expect to gain? Professor Richard E Allsop, Centre for Transport Studies University College London (PACTS 2005)
[4] The Incidence of Drugs and Alcohol in Road Accident Fatalities, Transport Research Library, 2000
[5] Reported road casualties Great Britain 2013, Department for Transport 2014

New figures show "major inconsistencies" in drug driving arrests

News from Brake
Thursday 27 July, 2017
news@brake.org.uk

BBC Radio 1 Newsbeat has today released data on drug driving arrests since new drug driving laws came into effect in March 2015. Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) has said the wide regional variation in arrests point towards a "worrying" pattern of enforcement across England and Wales. Commenting on today's new figures, Jason Wakeford, spokesman for Brake, the road safety charity, said: "Driving under the influence of drugs is dangerous and totally irresponsible. The law in England and Wales, which campaigners including Brake helped bring about, has gone a long way to help tackle the problem but more needs to be done.

"The Government must make traffic policing a greater national priority, giving the police more resources to deal with drug driving throughout the year. More approved testing devices are also desperately needed; just two of the drugs listed as illegal under the law - cannabis and cocaine - can be tested for at the roadside. An approved kit to detect ecstasy/MDMA should be made a priority.

"Brake welcomes plans by the Scottish Government for new drug driving laws in 2019 and we urge Northern Ireland to follow suit as soon as possible. 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."

[ENDS]

About Brake 

Brake is a national road safety and sustainable transport charity, founded in 1995, that exists to stop the needless deaths and serious injuries that happen on roads every day, make streets and communities safer for everyone, and care for families bereaved and injured in road crashes. Brake promotes road safety awareness, safe and sustainable road use, and effective road safety policies.

We do this through national campaignscommunity educationservices for road safety professionals and employers, and by coordinating the UK's flagship road safety event every November, Road Safety Week. Brake is a national, government-funded provider of support to families and individuals devastated by road death and serious injury, including through a helpline and support packs.

Follow Brake on TwitterFacebook, or The Brake Blog.

Road crashes are not accidents; they are devastating and preventable events, not chance mishaps. Calling them accidents undermines work to make roads safer, and can cause insult to families whose lives have been torn apart by needless casualties.