SERP works to make drug driving a social taboo

Essex Police says it is committed to tackling the drug drive issue – after revealing it made more than 1,800 arrests for the offence in 2019.

A total of 169 drug driving arrests were recorded in December, taking the annual figure to 1,844 – more than 2017 and 2018 combined.

On 11 December, the Safer Essex Roads Partnership launched its first ever anti-drug driving-specific campaign, using humour to raise awareness of the issue.

The campaign also aimed to debunk the common belief among drug drivers that they will not get caught.

Insp Rob Brettell, from Essex Police’s Serious Collision Investigation Unit, said: “What these numbers show is that if you drug drive in Essex you’re more likely to be caught than ever before.

“There will be a number of those arrested over the course of 2019 who won’t have felt impaired and may have last had drugs 24, 48, 72 hours before being stopped. The fact is that drugs stay in your system and just because you don’t feel stoned doesn’t mean you’re not over the drug driving limit.

“And as many of those who’ve been arrested will find out – if you’re convicted of drug driving it means you’ll lose your licence and that could have knock-on effects of losing your job and even your home.

“Is the high worth that low?

“What we’ve tried to do through our innovative anti-drug driving campaign is to raise awareness of the issue and educate the public about it.

“It took decades of campaigning to make drink-driving a social taboo so we know this won’t be a quick fix but we are committed to tackling this issue.”

Caroline Churchouse, from the Safer Essex Roads Partnership, said: “This is just the start of our work to educate drug-users about the dangers of drug-driving. 

“We knew we needed a different approach and our campaign certainly got noticed and generated conversations amongst our target audience. 

“A quarter of fatal collisions in 2019 involved a drug-driver. That’s 14 deaths in Essex which could have been easily prevented. Please continue to share our messaging as we enter a new decade, and help us drive down road deaths and serious injuries in our county.”

Drink driving ‘continues to be a significant issue’
In December, Essex Police also made 173 arrests for drink driving – while 63 drivers were arrested for failing to provide a specimen.

Insp Brettell added: “Drink driving continues to be a significant issue across the county and continue our efforts to take drink drivers off the road.

“The December figure also represents a lot of targeted and proactive work, acting on information and intelligence from members of the public, to identify drink drivers and get them off the road.

“We need people to make sensible decisions about whether or not to get behind the wheel because the consequences can be catastrophic.

“Our work to tackle both drink and drug driving never stops as this is an issue that is not going away.” 

07 January 2019

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