A survey carried out by road safety charity, Brake, has revealed that the equivalent of one million drivers have driven a vehicle while under the influence of drugs in the last year.

The figures also showed that one in 10 of those surveyed believe that they have been a passenger of a driver under the influence of drugs, and three in 10 admit that they would not speak out to stop a friend on drugs from driving.

Under current legislation, drivers suspected of drug driving are required to be given a ‘field impairment assessment’ to test whether their driving has been impaired by drugs. But, in March 2015, new ‘zero tolerance limits’ will mean that road side drug testing devices will be used by police to identify those who are illegally over the drug driving limit. Drivers found to be over the specified limit of a drug while driving can face up to six months in prison, a 12 month driving ban or £5,000 fine.

Serious injury solicitor and Road Peace North East Chairperson, David Robinson, said: “The figures presented by Brake show that drug driving is a more prevalent problem than many may believe, and one that needs to be addressed. Drug driving, as a criminal offence, has proved difficult to prosecute owing to the type of roadside testing currently available, and while drink driving has received high levels of exposure over the years through road safety campaigning, the dangers of drug driving often fall under the radar.

“While there is little research relating to drug driving figures, it is estimated that around 200 deaths a year may be as a result of drug driving. What we do know for certain is that driving under the influence of drugs can dramatically affect a driver’s reaction times, co-ordination and distort perceptions. It presents real risks to drivers, passengers and other road users.

“As serious injury specialists, we have acted on behalf of a number of clients whose lives have been turned upside down at the hands of a dangerous driver. While the new legislation, due to come into effect next year, is certainly a step in the right direction for helping to protect road users, there is still much more that can be done to raise awareness of the legal consequences of driving under the influence of drugs, as well as the dangers associated with this offence.”