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UK drug-driving and speeding offences hit record highs

A new analysis of official data reveals a worrying increase in offences over the course of 2021

Drug driving shake up

Drug-driving and speeding offences hit record highs last year, according to worrying new official figures.

AA analysis of Crown and Magistrates Court data for 2021 showed that, as the UK came out of lockdown and travel restrictions, the number of drug-driving cases increased by 54 per cent to 21,411, while speeding cases rose 24 per cent to 208,496.

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In addition, three other offences reached record highs. There were 793 cases of causing serious injury through dangerous driving, 7,605 cases of dangerous driving and 96,801 cases of drivers failing to supply information when required.

The data also showed that, while 32,500 drivers were taken to court for drink-driving, only 6,169 appeared in the dock for mobile phone use behind the wheel.

One key statistic uncovered was that, of the 638,044 motoring cases brought to court in 2021, 565,440 resulted in a guilty verdict. That means 85.5 per cent of motoring cases end with a conviction.

Although last year’s rise in prosecutions bore some connection to court sittings being suspended during lockdown, the AA expressed concern that the standard of driving in the UK fell following the pandemic.

The organisation’s head of roads policy Jack Cousens commented: “Our analysis shows a shocking return to the roads after the pandemic. With record highs of dangerous driving, drug driving and speeding, it is a timely reminder to every driver that being behind the wheel is a serious responsibility and that poor driving can have serious consequences.

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“Drug driving has increased year-on-year since records began and, while more police forces are carrying out roadside tests, it seems some people are willing to try and chance it. We need to put more focus on this issue and eliminate it completely from our roads.

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“We hope this is a short-term blight in the figures and that driving standards have improved when the 2022 statistics are announced.”

Auto Express has previously reported that drivers want to see more active road police to tackle falling driving standards, but that forces are relying less on cops in cars and more on camera footage.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “It is vital that everyone is able to travel safely on our roads, and we recognise the critical role our enforcement plays in saving lives and driving down criminality. We are working closely with the police and local authorities on how to further improve our roads enforcement and reduce road traffic casualties.”

Promised crackdown on drug-driving

Back in April 2022, the then Secretary of State for Transport has announced a new crackdown on drug-driving as offences continue to rise. Grant Shapps wanted to change the law so that motorists who are convicted for drug-driving are required to undergo a rehabilitation course before getting back behind the wheel. At present, offenders simply face a driving ban, prison sentence and/or a fine. Drink-drivers, meanwhile, are already required to undergo rehabilitation before resuming driving.

Non-attendees to drink-driving rehabilitation courses are over twice as likely to commit a new drink-driving offence within three years, so by requiring drug-driving offenders to go through rehab, the DfT hopes to reduce the number of repeat offenders. 

Shapps said: “Drink-driving is now rightly seen as a social taboo by most of us in this country and we have worked hard to drive down drink-drive related deaths. But if we are to make our roads safer still, there is no room to be lax on drug-driving, which is why I have launched this call for evidence today. 

“It’s only right that drug-drivers must undergo rehabilitation before getting back behind the wheel, helping protect the public from this hidden problem and stamping out drug-driving for good.”

 Is drug driving a greater risk than drink driving? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below...

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