A £2.3m advertising campaign launched last week to warn of the risks of driving whilst under the influence of drugs has received a mixed reception from the British public and road safety experts.
The television advert warns motorists that police can spot the involuntary signs of someone being under the influence of drugs if they are stopped. These signs include severely dilated or constricted pupils. The advert shows a car carrying several young people with their eyes enlarged, adding: “Your eyes will give you away.”
Young men aged between 17 and 29 are thought to be most likely to drive while on illegal drugs. Indeed, a recent survey in Scotland suggested that 81% of clubbers have driven whilst under the influence of illegal drugs.
The Department for Transport (DfT) estimates that as many as one in five drivers or motorcyclists killed in road accidents may have an impairing drug (legal or illegal) in their system. Transport Secretary Lord Adonis said in a recent interview, “Whatever one’s views on drug taking, we’ve got to make it absolutely socially unacceptable to drive while under the influence of drugs, because it can kill.”
The Department for Transport has published statistics on road casualties in accidents reported to the police in Great Britain in 2008, according to the arrangements approved by the UK Statistics Authority
The number of people killed in road accidents reported to the police, fell by 14 per cent from 2,946 in 2007 to 2,538 in 2008. 28,567 people were killed or seriously injured in 2008, 7 per cent fewer than in 2007. There were just under 231,000 road casualties in Great Britain in 2008, 7 per cent less than in 2007.
The number of deaths among car users in 2008 was 1,257, 12 per cent less than in the previous year. The reported number of seriously injured fell by 7 per cent to 10,707. Total reported casualties among car users were 149,169, 8 per cent lower than 2007. Traffic estimates indicate a 1 per cent fall in car and taxi traffic over the period.
Child casualties fell by 8 per cent. The number of children killed or seriously injured in 2008 was 2,807 (down 9 per cent on 2007). Of those, 1,784 were pedestrians, 6 per cent down on 2007. 124 children died on the roads, 2 per cent higher than in the previous year, when the lowest ever child fatality figure of 121 was recorded.
There were 572 pedestrian deaths, 11 per cent less than in 2007. Reported killed or serious injured casualties fell by 4 per cent to 6,642. The all pedestrian casualty figure fell to 28,481 in 2008, 6 per cent lower than 2007.
The number of pedal cyclists killed fell by 15 per cent from 136 in 2007 to 115 in 2008. The number of seriously injured rose by 1 per cent to 2,450. The total casualties among pedal cyclists rose by 1 per cent to 16,297.
There were 493 motorcycle user fatalities in accidents reported to the police in 2008, 16 per cent lower than during 2007. The reported number of killed or seriously injured fell compared to 2007 (down 10 percent from 6,737 in 2007 to 6,048 in 2008). The all motorcycle user casualties figure for 2008 of 21,549 is 8 per cent lower than in 2007.
There were 170,500 road accidents involving personal injury reported to the police in 2008, 6 per cent fewer than in 2007. Of these, 25,457 accidents involved death or serious injury, 6 percent fewer than in 2007 (27,036).
Following the recent publication of the results of the DSA’s Learning to Drive Consultation comes the Government’s latest document seeking views on the vision, targets and measures for improving road safety in Great Britain beyond 2010.
“Making Britain’s Roads Safer” is the title of the consultation document, and we would urge you all to get involved and make your opinions known. The full document and related research articles can be found here. The closing date for this consultation is 14th July 2009.
The key challenges for the new strategy are as follows:
reducing the number of road deaths, which have fallen at a slower rate than serious injuries;
pedestrian and cyclist casualties in our towns and cities – particularly in deprived communities;