UK drug drivers offer warning for Australians

Every motorist knows the dangers of driving while drunk, but what about driving after doing drugs? Worrying research emerging from the UK discovered that not only are some people operating vehicles after doing drugs, but some think that it's okay.

Obviously this compromises the safety of all road users and pedestrians and is something that needs to change. Fleet services within businesses should involve random alcohol and drug testing to ensure staff and other motorists aren't put at risk. 

What did the research find?

The study was produced by the Department for Transport in the UK, and found that a proportion of road users have a dangerous attitude to driving after taking drugs. 

According to the department, some drivers believe it is acceptable to smoke cannabis before taking control of a vehicle due to its calming effects. These respondents believe that in this case, they were in fact safer, and less likely to cause accidents.

In an even more ridiculous statement, some of the motorists surveyed attempted to justify using cocaine before getting behind the wheel. These individuals believed that the substance made them more alert, again supposedly reducing their chances of causing an accident. 

The most alarming finding of the research is the attitude that drug driving is not as harmful as drink driving. With the Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety - Queensland estimating that around a quarter of all accidents involved a drug driver, this couldn't be further from the truth.

"It is worrying that drug drivers don't think they are as dangerous as drink drivers. For some this may be because their drug use is a lifestyle choice so they don't consider the consequences," AA President Edmund King told The Independent.

"We need to get the message out there that drug driving is as dangerous and socially irresponsible as drink driving."

How is Australia managing the problem?

While the details vary from state to state, drug driving in all territories is illegal, and results in strict penalties for those who are caught. In Queensland, for example, first time offenders can be hit with a fine of up to $1,050 and banned from driving for nine months. 

This is important for fleet managers to be aware of as well. Supervisors can be prosecuted if they are aware of drug driver's actions and do not take appropriate action.

Drugs can stay in a person's system for days at a time, meaning that substance abuse in general carries huge risks to all motorists who think they can get away with it.