North Devon drug-driving problem is ‘bigger than we know’
- Credit: Archant
Police and fire join forces to launch campaign as arrests increase by nearly 50 per cent
The number of motorists arrested for driving under the influence of drugs increased by nearly 50 per cent during the last year, according to police figures.
Data released by Devon and Cornwall Police show that 87 people were arrested for drug-driving in the force area between March 2015 and 2016, compared with 59 the previous year.
Statistics also show a slight rise in the number of accidents caused by drug-driving – 96 from March 2014 to March 2015, compared to 101 from March 2015 to February 2016.
Nationally, the number of motorists charged with drug-driving increased by 140 per cent last year.
You may also want to watch:
In North Devon, police and firefighters have joined forces to launch a new campaign to crack down on drug-driving.
The new initiative is designed to deter drivers from getting behind the wheel while under the influence of drugs and coincides with new roadside testing equipment that became available in November.
- 1 Jealous Barnstaple boyfriend made divorcee get rid of wedding dress
- 2 North Devon business signs up to 1 billion tree project
- 3 The Plough announces Open-Air Theatre Festival
- 4 Holidaycottages.co.uk celebrates launch of new office in Braunton
- 5 Criminal damage at Fremington Football Club - Police appeal
- 6 Little Leo’s big challenge for Children’s Hospice South West
- 7 Bungling Northam burglar facing jail
- 8 Boris Johnson - Time between Covid jabs cut in response to Indian variant
- 9 North Devon sign West Indian pace bowler
- 10 'ThINK it through before you tattoo' urges council
The ‘Drugs will get you smashed’ message has been added to a number of fire service vehicles to raise public awareness.
Neil Blackburn, fire service area manager, said: “It is a really big issue in North Devon – probably bigger than we know and probably bigger than drink-driving.
“It’s the biggest challenge that we currently face around impaired driving.
“We believe it has contributed to an increasing number of fatal and serious road collisions, nationally and locally, over the last few years – and this includes prescription drugs, illegal drugs or a combination of the two.”
Mr Blackburn said the new drug testing kits were now being widely used at the roadside to test people.
“We are working in partnership with the police and other partners to raise awareness and to try to prevent drug use,” he added.
Torridge sector inspector Phil Gray said the drug-driving figures were ‘just the tip of the iceberg’.
“Driving while under the influence of drink or drugs affects concentration, reaction times, blurred vision to just name a few,” he said.
“The aim is to educate drivers to the dangers of drug-driving and highlight the impact on not only a driver’s life but that of their family and friends.”
Insp Gray said the roadside tests can detect cannabis and cocaine, which can be used in conjunction with other physical tests to indicate whether a driver is under the influence of something other than alcohol.
“This could result in their arrest, where further samples would be obtained at the station,” he said.
“This legislation applies to illegal drugs and also certain prescription drugs, so it is vital that anyone driving a vehicle fully understands the implications of taking any kind of drug before getting behind the wheel.
“A conviction could result in a minimum one-year driving ban, £5,000 fine or six months’ imprisonment, as well as an endorsement on their licence, which remains for 11 years.”