Sussex Safer Roads Partnership (SSRP) are calling time on drug and drink driving this summer, and are reinforcing Sussex Police’s crackdown on it throughout the season.
Public opinion suggests it is culturally unacceptable to drink and drive, and given that we can see a decline in the numbers even in recent years, it is expected this will be the continuing trend. 2008 saw 428 collisions in Sussex due to this practice, but 2015 saw 305. On the other hand, legislation that was passed last year, setting limits for legal and illegal drugs, has resulted in an apparent huge rise in drivers using their vehicles whilst under the influence. In 2014, there were 55 convictions for drug driving, but 100 arrests were made within the first five months of the law being passed from March to August 2015. That said, this rise is mainly due to the new police powers and available technology to test for drugs: those drug driving were potentially still doing it in previous years, but with tighter limits, there is less freedom to drive impaired now.
In order to combat those who thought it was okay to drink and drive last year, Sussex Safer Roads Partnership (SSRP) are working with partners to reinforce the dangers of impaired driving. With Euro 2016 starting this month, the two-stranded SSRP campaign will look first at urban pubs with big sports screens, and secondly rural pubs with a focus on wining and dining.
Current statistics for drug driving suggest it is mainly young males smoking cannabis: 91% of arrests from November 2015 to March this year were males, 60% were for cannabis only, and 49% arrested were 17 to 25 years old. These details will direct the campaign against this practice, which will be orchestrated online due to the target audience.
Inspector Stewart Goodwin, of Surrey and Sussex’s Roads Policing Unit, said:
“The limits for drug driving have been in place for 15 months, and are therefore 50 years behind the behavioural change we have achieved with drink driving. There is a long way to go, and it won’t happen overnight, but with constant enforcement and continual messaging about the stark risks of driving under the influence of drugs, we will start to see a conversion in attitudes towards this practice. You are four more times likely to be in a collision if you drive under the influence – it is vital we get the message out to people before it is too late.”
We have a zero tolerance approach in Sussex to any form of driving under the influence. We wish to make drug driving as unacceptable as drink driving, and a great way to do this is to work with our partners to strengthen our work to get where we want to be. No one should die on the roads due to drugs or drink, so consider your mode of transportation before you are under the influence, so we can all enjoy a safe passage home.