Drink driving

Drug driving increase prompts calls for dope testing after crashes

Drug driving

Increasing numbers of drivers are being caught drug driving

Drug driving is increasing with more than half the drivers suspected of being under the influence of illegal substances testing positive. Now some road safety campaigners are calling for all drivers involved in accidents to face drug tests.

Figures from the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) reveal there’s been a startling increase in drivers taking banned substances such as cocaine and cannabis. Of 2022 people stopped in June 2017, 1084 had illegal drugs in their blood. That’s 53.6 per cent compared with 39 per cent when a similar check was conducted in 2016.

Why are there so many drug drivers now?

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Driving licence points: how long do they stay valid for?

Driving licence

The number of drivers banned from the road for dangerous driving rocketed last year. Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) figures show that 5179 drivers lost their licence for driving dangerously in 2016. The figure was up by nearly a third (29 per cent) compared with the year before.

The stats show that young adults between the ages of 26 and 35 are the most likely to be disqualified. The Highway Code states: “In the case of serious offences, such as dangerous driving and drink-driving, the court must order disqualification.” The ban is for 12 months. Drivers can also be slapped with an endorsement on their licence of between three and 11 points. But how long will those points stay there after their ban is over? Here’s all you need to know.

How long are points valid?

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Disqualified drivers: 18 banned drivers stopped at the wheel every day

Disqualified drivers

Untaxed cars and drink driving are on the up while nearly 7000 banned drivers were found still at the wheel last year

New figures show some worrying trends on Britain’s roads: thousands of disqualified drivers have been caught at the wheel; the number of drink drivers is on the up; and there’s been a rise in the number of untaxed cars. Official statistics from the Ministry of Justice found 6592 disqualified drivers were stopped for driving in England and Wales in 2015. That’s the equivalent of 18 banned drivers being halted by the police every day.

The report, compiled by Churchill car insurance, also discovered that the average fine for being disqualified from driving was £247. And 44 per cent of drivers were fined £150 or less. That is despite putting other road users in potentially life-threatening situations. The maximum fine for not having a TV licence, meanwhile, is £1000. And the harshest financial penalty for fly tipping is £400.

Steve Barrett, head of car insurance at Churchill, said: “Disqualification from driving isn’t just a punishment for committing a very serious driving offence, or series of offences; it’s in the interests of all road users and their safety. With the average fine for driving while disqualified averaging a mere £247, Churchill believes the penalties should be considerably tougher to serve as real deterrents and ensure the public’s safety.”

Last year, 87 of the 6592 disqualified drivers prosecuted were aged 17 and under. Between 2005 and 2015, 3911 banned drivers who were stopped were 17 or younger. It means these drivers had picked up two driving bans, despite being too young to drive in the first place.

Driving while being disqualified is the fifth most popular way of losing your licence in the UK; drink driving is the reason most drivers lose their licence. Last year the number of drink drive accidents was up by two and a half per cent compared to 2014.

The second most frequent reason drivers lose their licence is by the points totting up process. However, last month we revealed that an increasing number of drivers are keeping their licence despite exceeding the 12-point limit.

There have also been reports of an increase in the number of untaxed cars since the paper tax disc was abolished in late 2014. Between October 2014 and March 2015, £2.7bn was paid in Vehicle Excise duty. In the six months prior to that, 3.2bn was collected.

Read all you need to know about taxing your car here

Is Honda’s car key breathalyser the shape of things to come?

Honda and Hitachi's new breathalyser is the size of a smartphone and works like a modern car's smart key.

Honda and Hitachi’s new breathalyser is the size of a smartphone and works like a modern car’s smart key. (Picture © Honda)

As sure as pubs serve cold beer, drinking and driving are a dangerous mix. The most up to date government figures say 240 people were killed by drink-driving in Britain in 2014, and there were over 5,600 accidents estimated to have been caused by having one for the road. In America, over the same period, nearly 10,000 people lost their lives due to ‘alcohol-impaired driving’.

So it’s little surprise that Honda, the Japanese car maker, has asked itself what technology could do to help prevent drink-driving. The answer, it suggests, is a smart key that can detect excessive alcohol consumption and prevent a car’s engine from being started – all before a driver unlocks the car.
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Drink driving videos from Think! tell drivers not to give in to peer pressure

Think! drink drive video 2015

It’s a scenario familiar to many drivers: the phone rings and it’s your wife asking to be collected from the train station. But you’ve drunk more than one glass of wine with dinner and you’re not really sure whether it’s a good idea to get behind the wheel.

It isn’t. At least, that’s the message from Think!, the road safety campaigning arm of the Department for Transport (DfT). Its seasonal Christmas driver safety adverts remind drivers that they mustn’t give in to peer pressure to drink and drive.It also tells drinkers that they shouldn’t pressure drivers into joining them for ‘just one more’ before they hit the road. It comes in response to DfT figures that show the number of casualties in the UK caused by drink drivers increased in 2014 compared to the previous year.
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