Young drivers confess to having a blasé attitude to drink and drug driving, new research has revealed.
One in seven (16 per cent) 25-34 year olds admit they have driven after taking drugs, with more than one in 10 (14 per cent) confessing they are likely to do it again this Christmas.
Drivers confessed to taking cocaine (24 per cent), cannabis (66 per cent), ecstasy (16 per cent) and even heroin (8 per cent), whilst behind the wheel.
And despite efforts to tackle drink driving and annual campaigns, one in five (17 per cent) admit they have driven whilst possibly over the legal alcohol limit in the last few years, with one in nine confessing they are likely to do it again this Christmas.
Legal highs also proved to be a problem, with nearly one in 20 (3 per cent) admitting to driving whilst under the influence.
Road traffic defence experts Slater and Gordon commissioned the survey of more than 2000 adults to gauge attitudes ahead of the festive period when many will be tempted to drive during or after a night out.
Around half of people confess they wouldn’t report their partner (52 per cent), family member (47 per cent) or friend (41 per cent) if they were driving whilst on drugs or drunk.
Fears around embarrassing them (17 per cent), being called a “grass” (14 per cent) or causing them to lose their license so they can’t do their job (49 per cent) or visit their children (15 per cent), were just some of the reasons people gave for not turning them in.
Paul Reddy, road traffic defence lawyer at Slater and Gordon, said: “The festive season is a time for good cheer but all too often I see lives ruined because people have a few drinks or take drugs before getting behind the wheel.
“Despite constant education campaigns and stories in the media, motorists are still caught out by being over the limit, even if they claim they only had a couple or it is the morning after.
“If you don’t want to lose your license, or worse still injure yourself or innocent people, don’t take the risk. My advice would always be, if you are planning on driving home, don’t drink.”
Eight in 10 would encourage a close friend or family member not to get into a car after they had been drinking or taking drugs, 57 per cent wouldn’t get in the car with them and 43 per cent would threaten to call the police.
One in five motorists (19 per cent) admitted to getting behind the wheel after having taken medicine which warned against driving.
Whilst the number of those who admitted to driving while under the influence of drink or drugs is high, only two per cent have been pulled over by the police and one per cent convicted or charged.
A large proportion of drivers said they didn’t read the warnings on prescription medicine or would ignore doctors’ advice not to operate machinery.
One in five (19 per cent) admitted to having ignored guidance on medicine not to drive in order to carry out an “urgent” errand, with others confessing to taking the children to school (13 per cent), or needing to get to work (37 per cent).
Paul Reddy, road traffic defense lawyer at Slater and Gordon, said: “Increasingly we are seeing clients come to us who have been stung with fines, a driving ban and even prison sentences, after being caught behind the wheel having taken over the counter medication.
“Many medications carry warnings to be aware of the dangers of drowsiness or other side-effects, and those warnings are there for a reason; it is absolutely vital that everyone taking medications discusses possible side-effects with their pharmacist and also reads the advisory notes with the medication.”
While the vast majority of people (88 per cent) said they wouldn’t drink and drive if they were expected to take passengers, this number dropped when asked if they were going to complete a journey on their own (78 per cent).
In a bid to stop potential accidents, 68 per cent of people admitted to taking a friend or family member’s car keys to stop them from driving after they have been drinking, with half (48 per cent) refused to get them another drink and 41 per cent told bar staff not to serve them if they were planning to drive home.
However, eight per cent would let their friend or family member drive if they were only going five minutes down the road or if they were only using country lanes, rather than main roads.
Three in 10 (30 per cent) people confessed to driving to work the morning after a boozy night out when they suspect they are still over the legal drink driving limit.
One in 10 (11 per cent) admitted to being concerned in the last 12 months when getting the car with a family member or friend who has been drinking.