Drug-driving and speeding offences hit an all-time high in 2021, according to analysis of court data by the AA. With the relaxation of lockdowns and travel restrictions following the coronavirus pandemic, the figures show the number of drug-driving cases increased by more than half, while the number of speeding cases rose by almost a quarter.
According to the AA, the data shows the number of drug-driving cases increased by 54 percent in 2021 compared with the previous year. That means 21,411 people were taken to court over drug-driving, despite the lockdown at the beginning of the year. Speeding cases, meanwhile, rose from 167,596 in 2020 to 208,496 in 2021.
Naturally, 2020 was a low baseline against which to measure, thanks to the lockdowns imposed during the coronavirus pandemic, but the 2021 data still revealed an alarming spike in post-pandemic offences. Three other motoring offences – causing serious injury through dangerous driving, dangerous driving and failing to supply information when required – also hit record levels last year.
But while more drivers than ever were being hauled up before a court for these five offences, just over 6,000 people were taken to court for using a handheld mobile phone behind the wheel. More than 32,500 drivers went to court for drink-driving, making the offence only around 50 percent more common than drug-driving.
In total, just over 638,000 motoring cases were taken to court last year, with 565,440 of those cases resulting in the defendant being found guilty. That means some 85.5 percent of motoring-related court cases end with a conviction.
Although some of the increases can be attributed to the backlog from courts being suspended in 2020, the AA says it is “worried” that the standard of driving fell after lockdown.
“Our analysis shows a shocking return to the roads after the pandemic,” said the AA’s head of roads policy, Jack Cousens. “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.”