Up to one million drug drivers on UK roads, poll reveals

The results of a poll suggest that up to a million people have driven their cars under the influence of illegal drugs in the past year.

The survey, commissioned by road safety charity Brake and insurance company Direct Line, found that three in every 100 drivers admit to ‘drug driving’.

According to the Direct Line and Brake report, a “significant minority” are “ignoring the unpredictable and dangerous effects” which drugs have on driving.


The report also said that the “true extent of the problem is greater” than the results of the survey would suggest.

It pointed to a study by the Transport Research Laboratory which found that “18% of drivers and 16% of motorcyclists killed in road crashes had traces of illegal drugs in their system”.

It also reported that an estimated “200 deaths a year may result from drug driving”.


As part of the poll, participants were asked if they would “speak up if a close friend was taking illegal drugs and intending to drive”.

Alarmingly, 24 per cent of people would only speak up if the driver was obviously showing the effects of drug taking. Five per cent of people would not speak up at all.

Deputy chief executive of Brake, Julie Townsend said: “Our message to everyone is never to underestimate the effects of illegal drugs on driving.”


The poll comes ahead of a change to the law, scheduled for next March. The change will make it an offence to drive while over specific limits of controlled substances.

The offence carries a maximum six month jail sentence as well as an automatic twelve month driving ban. Offenders may also be charged up to £5,000.

The poll was carried out by Surveygoo on behalf of Brake and Direct Line and it consulted 1,000 drivers.

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