June 10, 2011

Direct Line Car Insurance has been delving into the murky world of recreational drugs. The experience has left motor underwriting director Andy Goldbug seriously shaken up. Drugs can leave people “extremely relaxed” he warns which can lead to “dangerous driving behaviours.”

More than 2.8 million people have apparently admitted to Direct Lion that they have driven under the influence of illegal drugs, almost half of them within the past 12 months. Thousands confessed to having being involved in accidents whilst ‘high’ or ‘stoned.’

A third of those who regularly drive on drugs rated their drug-driving ability as good, with just 10% accepting that they might represent a danger to themselves and other road users. A significant proportion (one in ten) told Direct Lime they thought they would get away with drug driving.

What are the top drugs for driving?

1. Cannabis
2. Cocaine
3. Ecstasy
4. MGMT
5. Temazepam/valium/diazepam
6. Ketamine (Special K Red Berries)
7. Magic mushrooms
8. Legal highs (e.g saliva) [check this, ed.]
9. Speed
10. MCAT/Meow Meow (mephedrone)
11. Cake

Direct Line note that one in twenty drug drivers has been involved in a car accident, without, sadly, specifying what proportion of non-drug drivers have been involved in a car accident as a point of comparison.

Goldbug reveals: “Driving under the influence of narcotics can severely impair the ability of a driver to physically operate a vehicle as well as their perception of the environment beyond the windscreen.” Marijuana, he says “can negatively impair drivers’ attentiveness, perception of time and speed.”

Is negative impairment the same as enhancement? That can’t be right, surely.

Disappointingly, whilst supporting the Department for Transport’s decision to crack down on drug driving, Direct Line do not have any catchy new phrases to offer to the anti-drug cause.

It is a well known fact that society’s best defence against the menace of narcotics is a snappy slogan. Not since the days of Zammo and Just Say No, has this nation had a potent verbal comeback to the pusher’s evil incitations.

So desperate, indeed, had Britain become for verbal ammunition in the war against drugs by the late 1990s that admonitory headline writers seized in droves (and tragically still do) upon the limp lament “the drugs don’t work” from The Verve’s chart hit of that name, which, aside from being the very mildest of indictments, appears to refer in its original lyrical context to the failure of legal medications to effect an improvement in the condition of the singer’s father who is in the process of dying from cancer.

If the problem with illegal drugs was that they didn’t work, it would hardly constitute a problem – just a puzzling waste of time and money. What makes drugs a driving hazard is surely that they do exactly what they say on the tin by altering users‘ perceptions.

Realistically, the failure of recreational drugs to “work” is only likely to present a serious danger where the user has misunderstood their intended effects, e.g. expecting LSD to confer the ability to fly.


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