A road safety charity has said the UK is suffering from a “drug-driving epidemic” after figures showed a tenth of drivers admitted to having driven under the influence of drugs. A survey of more than 2,000 British drivers by IAM RoadSmart found 10 percent said they had drug-driven in the past.

Assuming the survey’s respondents were representative of the UK’s 35 million motorists, the study shows as many as 3.5 million drivers may have taken to the road while under the influence of drugs.

The research revealed cannabis was the most widely used substance for those who admitted drug-driving, with five percent of respondents confessing they had taken the drug before driving a vehicle. The next most popular substance was cocaine, followed by ecstasy (MDMA) and amphetamines (speed).

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Worryingly, the study also found that 14 percent of respondents said they would be “unlikely” to stop a friend or family member who was planning on driving after taking illegal drugs.

Perhaps it’s no surprise, therefore, that 58 percent of the motorists questioned by IAM RoadSmart said they thought driving while under the influence of drugs is a bigger problem than it was three years ago.

IAM RoadSmart also reports that drug-driving incident rates have reached record highs in the UK, with drug-related collisions and casualties up by more than 260 percent in the last decade. The Department for Transport (DfT) statistics also show 44 percent of these offences were committed by previous offenders.

Neil Greig, the director of policy and research at IAM RoadSmart, said societal drug problems were impacting road safety.

“Our research offers a sobering insight into how Britain’s drug epidemic is rearing its ugly head on our roads,” he said. “Illicit drugs can profoundly impair a motorist’s judgement, reaction times and alertness while driving, and some of the effects can last for days after a drug has been taken. As can be seen in the DfT statistics, this is causing havoc on the nation’s roads.

“But with nearly half of the offences being committed by previous offenders, and casualties increasing year-on-year, it is about time that the government took urgent action to address this issue before more lives are tragically lost. While drug use is a wider issue in the UK, we would strongly urge people who may have taken something not to get behind the wheel and create a dangerous – and potentially fatal – situation.”