15 per cent of young Flemish drivers drove after using drugs last year

Among young drivers, 85 per cent say they never get behind the wheel under the influence of illegal drugs. The remaining 15 per cent say they have driven after taking drugs in the past year, according to a survey by the Flemish Foundation for Traffic Engineering (VSV).

In January, the organisation questioned 544 Flemish drivers between the ages of 18 and 35 about their attitudes towards drug use in traffic. Of the young people surveyed, 28 per cent said they had used illegal drugs at some point in the past year, and 15 per cent said they had driven a car shortly afterwards.

The figure was higher among males (22 per cent) than females (7 per cent). According to the VSV, the most common combination of illicit drugs was alcohol (8 per cent), followed by cannabis (7 per cent) and a combination of drugs (6 per cent).

Of the group who used illicit drugs, more than half made the decision to drive within four hours of using them. Those who combined illicit drugs and driving were more likely to see their use while going out, even if by car, as a habit.

Severe risks

"Cannabis leads to a longer reaction time, slower reflexes and reduced coordination," said road safety expert Werner De Dobbeleer. "As a result, there is a risk of not noticing other road users until it is too late. Alternating slow and fast driving, unpredictable reactions and falling asleep at the wheel are also possible. Cocaine and speed in turn lead to fast and aggressive driving."

According to the VSV, the results of the study show the need for continued attention to drugs and driving. "Campaigns and enforcement on this issue are essential," De Dobbeleer said.



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