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Road Safety Week 2020 - No Need to Speed
Road Safety Week is the UK's biggest road safety event, organised each year by Brake, the Road Safety Charity. The theme this year is ‘No Need to Speed’ which was selected following the results of their online survey , ‘How safe are the streets where you live?’. The survey which was answered by over 1,700 members of the UK public, showed that only a quarter of individuals believe that vehicles travel at a safe speed on the street where they live.
There are a multitude of reasons why people speed including driver inattention, traffic flow and passenger distraction. However, a significant factor which can lead to speeding is driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol. The following study ‘Drug use, impaired driving and traffic accidents’ conducted by The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA)  summarises the correlation between drug and alcohol use and speeding. The report shows that:
- The use of both cannabis and alcohol together are associated with increases in speed.
- Regular methamphetamine users were significantly more likely to speed and were far more likely to weave from side to side whilst behind the wheel.
- MDMA was found to increase speed levels and decrease the driver’s ability to follow a car.
- Drivers who have used cocaine can be aggressive and reckless when driving.
In addition to this, Gjerde, Christophersem, Normann & Morland  (2012) found a strong association between drug and alcohol use and involvement in road traffic accidents. The article goes on to identify that these accidents occur as a result of risk-taking behaviour, speeding being a significant factor. A further study conducted in 2014, ‘Study of the Effects of Alcohol on Drivers and Driving Performance on Straight Roads’  found that higher blood-alcohol concentration levels lead to higher accident rates. The results on driver performance also indicated that average speed and speed standard deviation were significantly higher under the influence of alcohol.
Unfortunately, we see real-life examples of this behaviour in the media on a regular basis. Recently a 52-year-old man in Scotland was charged with driving at over 90mph and was found to be driving five times over the legal limit. Similarly, a drink-driver in Staffordshire was caught travelling at over 100mph with three children in her vehicle.
There is a vast amount of research into the correlation between drink- and drug-driving and an increase in speed but how well is this message communicated? Individuals are being educated on the potential consequences of drug- and drink-driving such as driver disqualification, loss of employment and prison sentences but are they truly aware of the mental and physical effects deriving from impairment? Drugs and alcohol interfere with the brain’s communication pathways, affecting the way the brain works and restricting the individual’s ability to make imperative decisions. Suggesting why people who take substances before getting behind the wheel are more likely to act recklessly.
Road Safety Week is therefore crucial, as it enables organisations and individuals from multiple sectors to spread the ‘No Need to Speed’ message from their perspective. Together we can create safer roads. Together we can work towards Vision Zero.
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