The drink and drug drive campaign over Christmas and New Year caught more people who got behind the wheel after taking drugs in England and Wales than ever before, according to the latest figures from the National Police Chiefs Council.
1888 people were tested using roadside screening devices during December, with almost 50% (931 people) found to have illegal drugs in their system.
Last Christmas saw the first campaign since new legislation was brought in covering 17 legal and illegal drugs. Police forces are now equipped with new screening devices, to make it easier to identify and then prosecute drug drivers.
For drink driving, road safety body, Brake, is concerned about an increase in the number of drivers over the age of 25 caught over the limit which is higher than in any of the previous 3 years. 3297 people tested positive, failed or refused to complete the test.
There are some positive indications when it comes to the drink drive figures for younger drivers with fewer under 25s being caught over the prescribed alcohol limit, 1062 compared to 1788 in the previous festive period. Though fewer tests were carried out, percentage wise there was also a drop from 6.33% to 5.37%.
Brake welcomes the continued use of a more targeted and intelligence led approach by the police when it comes to catching drink and drug drivers. However, officers tested almost half as many people last Christmas as they did over the 2012 period so there is concern that while generally the percentage of drivers caught is going down, the number of drink drivers actually being taken off our roads is decreasing.
This is why Brake is continuing to urge the government to give greater priority to traffic policing to make sure there are resources to tackle drink and drug driving throughout the year and not only during the traditional safety campaign times of Christmas and Summer.
Alice Bailey, campaigns officer for Brake, said: “These drug drivers figures show just how much this law change was needed to help keep our roads safer and send a clear message to anyone driving after taking drugs that they will be caught.
“We see the devastating impact of crashes caused by someone on a night out who has taken drugs and drunk and then got behind the wheel without considering the possible deadly consequences of their selfish actions. It’s very worrying that there has been an increase in the number of drivers aged 25 and over caught drink driving for a second year running, meaning too many are still don’t understand that any amount of alcohol can impair a driver’s ability and judgement.
“There is some slightly more encouraging news that fewer under 25’s have been caught drink driving but we must continue to press home the simple message that after drinking any alcohol or taking any drugs you are not fit to drive.”