Sobering Data - Drug and Drink Riding / Driving


Recently I attended a seminar run by the Institute of Advanced Motorist (IAM) about myths on drinking and drug driving. Let me share some drug driving / riding data here:

According to a report 92 people were killed and 672 seriously injured in collisions where a driver was impaired by drugs in 2019. The true figure is likely to be much higher. 12,391 people were convicted of a drug driving offence in 2019. This number has increased significantly since 2015. Nearly half (44%) of drug drive offences are committed by a reoffender. In our view there is still a lack of education on the impact of drug driving and the laws that are in place.


The Department for Transport reports Drug driving is increasing in prevalence, so yes – it is undoubtedly a problem. Some police forces are in fact arresting more drug drivers than drink drivers. Evidence suggests a clear public appetite for strong enforcement measures to tackle drug driving. The National Travel Attitudes Survey 2019 found that 90% of respondents saying that someone who has taken any illegal drugs should not drive any distance.


This looks horrific and like me, I expect that you have ridden past a car which is clouded in a herb like smell.... I also suspect that road rage or "enthusiastic" driving could also be a result of chemicals - drugs do not affect drivers like alcohol after all. In fact, drugs are in our lives in many ways, medication is common amongst us and I wonder how a slight change or mistake in dosage could affect us behind the wheel or when we saddle up? I have some very strange side affects from blood pressure medication a few years back, for example.


So maybe we should compare this drug data with the drinking statistics - have a look here:

In 2019 (the latest year for data) 16% of fatal crashes on our roads involved at least one driver or rider who was found to be over the limit (that’s just over one in six of all fatalities!). The prevalence of drink-driving in road deaths has fallen over time. In 1979, 26% of road deaths occurred in accidents where at least one driver or rider was over the drink-drive limit. This had fallen to 15% by 1989. Since then the percentage of road deaths that are drink-drive related has varied between 12% and 18%.


The total number of drink-drive accidents of all severities fell by 8% from 2018 to 2019 to 5,400, the lowest number recorded. This means that around 5% of all reported road traffic accidents in 2019 involved at least one driver/rider over the legal alcohol limit. In 1979, 8% of reported road accidents were drink-drive related. This has fallen to 5% by 1990 and has been generally around 5% since then.


This reads to me that drink driving is falling whilst drug driving is rising, fast!


We have changed the public perception or attitude to drinking and driving I know. Bikers that I know would very rarely drink and ride - we have enough to handle sober!! Plus riders are also very aware of not hitting the bar the night before a long ride (or drive) as it takes an hour for the body to process 1 unit of alcohol. That means 4 pints of beer or a few glasses of wine with dinner would take 12 hours to leave your system - stop drinking at 10 pm, you could be over the limit for a 7 am saddle up on the bike....


Thinking about the future, we need to educate and protect ourselves from this rise of drug drivers and this is where it would seem the UK is going:


The Department of Transport have confirmed to us that the rehabilitation scheme for drink-drivers is currently under review. Once the findings from this exercise are complete, they will consider a combined rehabilitation scheme covering both drink and drugs. Once an approved course is in place, we are sure that many magistrates will want to use it.


I believe that the facts are telling a worrying story and I am very careful that I do not drink and drive. I would advocate that any drugs, in whatever form, should not be combined with riding or driving - I hope that you agree.

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