Essex drug driving arrests in 2019 more than last two years combined
- Credit: Archant
The number of people arrested for drug driving in Essex this year is more than 2017 and 2018 combined, police figures have revealed.
Essex Police launched its first-ever anti-drug driving campaign in December to raise awareness of the issue and made 169 arrests during the month.
This took the 2019 total to 1,844, which was more than the last two years combined, the force said.
Inspector Rob Brettell, from Essex Police's serious collision investigation unit, said the force wants to educate the public about the issue.
He said: "What these numbers show is that if you drug drive in Essex you're more likely to be caught than ever before.
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"There will be a number of those arrested over the course of 2019 who won't have felt impaired and may have last had drugs 24, 48, 72 hours before being stopped.
"The fact is that drugs stay in your system and just because you don't feel stoned doesn't mean you're not over the drug driving limit.
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"And as many of those who've been arrested will find out - if you're convicted of drug driving it means you'll lose your licence and that could have knock-on affects of losing your job and even your home.
"What we've tried to do through our innovative anti-drug driving campaign is to raise awareness of the issue and educate the public about it.
"It took decades of campaigning to make drink-driving a social taboo so we know this won't be a quick fix but we are committed to tackling this issue."
The Christmas crackdown in December also saw more than 400 drink or drug driving-related arrests in Essex - which included 173 drink driving arrests and 61 failing to provide a specimen arrests.
Inspector Brettell added: "Drink driving continues to be a significant issue across the county and continue our efforts to take drink drivers off the road.
"That figure also represents a lot of targeted and proactive work, acting on information and intelligence from members of the public, to identify drink drivers and get them off the road.
"We need people to make sensible decisions about whether or not to get behind the wheel because the consequences can be catastrophic.
"Our work to tackle both drink and drug driving never stops as this is an issue that is not going away."
Caroline Churchouse, from the Safer Essex Roads Partnership, urged people to continue to share the anti-drug driving message.
She said: "This is just the start of our work to educate drug-users about the dangers of drug-driving.
"We knew we needed a different approach and our campaign certainly got noticed and generated conversations amongst our target audience.
"A quarter of fatal collisions in 2019 involved a drug-driver. That's 14 deaths in Essex which could have been easily prevented.
"Please continue to share our messaging as we enter a new decade, and help us drive down road deaths and serious injuries in our county."