Drug driving

Drug driving and speeding cases soared to record levels after Covid lockdown

Court cases are mounting up, says the AA

Figures showing record numbers of people caught speeding or driving under the influence of drugs has been described as shocking by the AA.

Analysis by the roadside recovery service of Crown and Magistrates Court data for 2021 showed that drug-driving cases increased 54% from 13,873 the year before to 21,411, while speeding cases rose by nearly a quarter from 167,596 to 208,496.

The AA said it was concerned driving standards had declined as Covid-19 lockdown restrictions eased and drivers headed back onto the roads.

While the organisation acknowledged that the statistics are potentially skewed by fewer court cases taking place in 2020, the hefty increases last year aren’t simply down to a jump from lower-than-average numbers of cases the year before; the drug-driving figures for 2021 are the highest since records began in 2015, while the number of speeding offences are the highest since at least 2011, the first year of data provided.

YearDrug-driving offencesSpeed limit offences

Three other offences reached record highs last year: there were 793 cases of causing serious injury through dangerous driving, up from a previous high of 768 in 2017; some 7,605 dangerous driving offences were recorded, more than the 6,947 of 2019; and the number of drivers failing to supply information when required was 96,801 in 2021, nearly 1,000 more than the previous record two years earlier.

The AA said a total of 638,044 motoring cases were taken to court last year with 565,440 people found guilty, which means that 85.5% of motoring-related court cases end with a conviction.

“Our analysis shows a shocking return to the roads after the pandemic,” said Jack Cousens, head of roads policy for the AA.

“With record highs of dangerous driving, drug driving and speeding, it is a timely reminder to every driver that being behind the wheel is a serious responsibility and that poor driving can have serious consequences.

“Drug driving has increased year-on-year since records began and while more police forces are carrying out roadside tests, it seems some people are willing to try and chance it. We need to put more focus on this issue and eliminate it completely from our roads.

“We hope this is a short-term blight in the figures and that driving standards have improved when the 2022 statistics are announced.”

There was good news on the number of drivers caught drink driving, however. While the 32,678 recorded was higher than in 2020, it was the second-lowest on record, with cases decreasing every year to 2020 from a high of 48,937 in 2011.

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