A new report shows that most people who take drugs do not think they affect their driving and do not expect to be caught by the police.
The report investigated the prevalence of, and attitudes towards, recreational drug use and driving among drivers aged 17-39.
Commenting on the report, Transport Minister Tavish Scott said:
"Driving under the influence of drugs is dangerous driving. It is just as dangerous as driving when drunk.
"This report shows too many people think that taking drugs doesn't affect their driving. Yet the effects can last for hours or even days. Our message is simple - Drugs can affect your driving. It isn't worth the risk."
Assistant Chief Constable Ian Learmonth, Secretary of the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland, Road Policing Business Area said:
"There can be no doubt that certain legal and illicit drugs impair the ability to drive safely.
"Scotland's eight police forces now have specially trained officers who can detect those who are unfit to drive after taking drugs. If an officer suspects that a person is unfit to drive due to the influence of drugs, then they can be subjected to a Preliminary Impairment Test.
"This test consists of an examination of the eye pupils and four psycho physical tests which will indicate whether a person's ability to drive is impaired. If it is confirmed that the impairment was due to drugs then the courts can impose the same penalties as for drink driving.
"Our message is clear, don't risk it! Your chances of being caught are higher than ever."
The reports main findings were:
The report "Illicit Drugs and Driving" was commissioned by the Scottish Executive. It investigated the prevalence of and attitudes towards recreational drug use and driving among drivers aged 17-39.
- The proportion of people who said they had ever taken drugs was consistent with previous surveys (39 per cent). However, fewer people said that they had taken drugs in the past 12 months compared with the 2000 drugs and driving survey (9 per cent in 2005 compared with 15 per cent in 2000).
- With regard to drug-driving, 6 per cent had ever drug-driven and 3.5 per cent had done so in the last 12 months. There was no significant change between the prevalence recorded in 2000 and that recorded in 2005.
- Two main explanations for drug driving emerged from the in-depth interviews. First, driving after using drugs was simply more convenient than using another form of transport. Second, there is a lack of deterrents to drug-drive.
- All risky driving behaviours (e.g. drunk-driving, speeding) appear to be linked through the personality characteristic of "sensation seeking". Respondents who had drug driven had higher sensation seeking scores than those who had not.
- 13 per cent of survey respondents had been a passenger of a drug driver. From the depth interviews it was clear that most of the people who had been passengers had also been using drugs and were making social journeys.
- Those who had desisted from drug driving were more likely than those who had drug-driven in the last 12 months to be with a partner. They were aware of the consequences and implications that getting caught could have.
The research was carried out by a team comprising MORI Scotland, the Centre for Drugs Misuse Research at Glasgow University and Professor Steve Stradling of Napier University's Transport Research Institute.