Drug-driv­ing deaths in­crease for se­cond year in suc­ces­sion

Kent Messenger Maidstone - - FRONT PAGE - By El­lis Stephen­son es­tephen­son@ thek­m­group.co.uk @Re­porterEl­lisKM

The num­ber of peo­ple killed by drug-driv­ing on Kent’s roads has risen for the se­cond year in a row, prompt­ing a stark warn­ing.

The data re­leased by Kent County Coun­cil (KCC) re­veals 59 in­ci­dents were a re­sult of drugs, in­clud­ing 16 se­ri­ous in­juries and three deaths.

The year be­fore, there were 53 in­ci­dents, 10 of which re­sulted in se­ri­ous in­juries and two in fa­tal­i­ties.

The fig­ures have prompted KCC to raise aware­ness of the dan­gers of driv­ing while un­der the in­flu­ence of drugs through­out Novem­ber.

KCC road safety team leader Vicky Har­vey said: “Drug driv­ers can suf­fer from blurred vi­sion, er­ratic and ag­gres­sive be­hav­iour, nau­sea, hal­lu­ci­na­tions, panic at­tacks, para­noia, shakes, dizzi­ness and fa­tigue.

“In such a con­di­tion, it is a very bad idea to be be­hind the wheel of a car, for you, your pas­sen­gers and other peo­ple on the roads or pave­ments.

“Tak­ing drugs and driv­ing will im­pair your abil­ity to drive. Our mes­sage is don’t let drugs take the driv­ing seat. They af­fect your abil­ity to con­cen­trate, to re­act in an emer­gency and to per­ceive ac­cu­rately what’s go­ing on around you.”

Separately, po­lice have warned of the con­se­quences drug driv­ers might face if they are caught.

Ch Insp Richard Smeed said: “Get­ting a drug-driv­ing con­vic­tion could cost you your driv­ing li­cence, and per­haps even your job and your home. Worse still, you could be re­spon­si­ble for caus­ing some­one se­ri­ous in­jury or death.

“Mo­torists who do this need to know that drugs stay in the sys­tem for longer than al­co­hol, and of­ten for more than 24 hours. It’s il­le­gal, it’s reck­less and it’s wrong. It’s as sim­ple as that.”

Driv­ers who get be­hind the wheel af­ter tak­ing il­le­gal drugs face crim­i­nal records, los­ing their licences and un­lim­ited fines.

Kent Fire and Res­cue Ser­vice road-safety man­ager Lawrence Pater said: “This is all about high­light­ing the dev­as­tat­ing con­se­quences that can hap­pen if a per­son de­cides to drive un­der the in­flu­ence of drugs or drink. We want peo­ple to ask them­selves ‘is it worth the risk?’

“Our fire­fight­ers at­tend too many road crashes, which have life-chang­ing im­pacts on fam­i­lies.

“It’s clear: peo­ple are still gam­bling with their lives and the lives of oth­ers when they get be­hind the wheel.

“Many be­lieve they know how much the limit is, but the sim­ple fact is there is only one way of be­ing sure that you are safe to drive – don’t take drugs or drink al­co­hol at all if you in­tend to drive.

“Please keep your­self, your fam­ily and oth­ers safe – not just across the fes­tive pe­riod, but al­ways.”

Pic­tures: Doug Menuez/Getty Images

Po­lice, Kent County Coun­cil and the fire and res­cue ser­vice high­lighted the dan­gers of driv­ing while un­der the in­flu­ence of recre­ational drugs

KCC is run­ning a drug-driv­ing cam­paign this month

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