Suffolk tops regional table for drug-driving offences, figures reveal
- Credit: Archant
The East of England has seen the number of people caught drug-driving soar by more than 400 per cent in the last two years - with Suffolk topping the table with 715 offenders caught in 2017.
According to figures from a Freedom of Information request, obtained by Confused.com, the number of drug drivers caught in the region rose from 224 in 2015 to 1,186 in 2017 - an increase of 429pc.
Tim Passmore, Suffolk's police and crime commissioner said the increase in those caught showed investment in drug driving enforcement was paying off.
He said: 'These figures are quite shocking, but it suggests that our investment in drug testing is paying dividends.
'Earlier in the year we - key partners on Suffolk's Roadsafe Board - agreed to make a significant investment of £120,000 to support the Constabulary's campaign to get drug drivers off the county's roads.
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'This paid for over 1,000 roadside wipes and the necessary forensic testing which makes testing for drugs much easier.
'It saddens me that despite the obvious dangers, too many drivers still take to the road unfit to drive.
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'All drivers need to understand that drug – and drink – driving risks lives and the lives of others, it is grossly irresponsible and selfish. This cavalier attitude to safety is completely unacceptable and I urge drivers to take heed.'
Research from Confused.com has also highlighted the issue of how hay fever medication may also affect driving. A survey it conducted showed that more than half (58pc) of hay fever-suffering motorists in the UK have driven after taking medication to help their symptoms. A tenth of these admit the medication affected their ability to drive, including making them drowsy.
Joshua Harris, director of campaigns at road safety charity Brake, said drug-driving is an 'increasing danger' on our roads.
He said: 'Drivers need to be better informed of the dangers, and illegality, of certain medicines before getting behind the wheel.
'We also need a crackdown on those who take illegal drugs, but to do this the police need more help; we need more investment in roads policing and the introduction of roadside testing equipment for all illegal drugs.'
Mr Passmore added: 'It's a stark reminder to anyone on prescription drugs to double check the impact that this has on their driving too.'