THE NUMBER of motorists caught and charged with drug-driving across the West Midlands has more than doubled in the past two years.
There were 1,231 held for drug-driving in the region in 2017 with the highest number – 631 – being stopped in the West Mercia force area.
The figures were provided following a Freedom of Information request by comparison website confused.com. And with 533 people caught in 2015, the 2017 figure shows a 131 per cent increase.
More than 6,300 UK drivers were caught under the influence of drugs in 2017. They include illegal, prescription and over-the-counter drugs which could have an impact on a motorist’s ability to drive.
Worryingly among the substances leading to people being charged are chlorphenamine, hydroxyzine or promethazine – all types of antihistamines to curb symptoms of hay fever.
There are concerns that drivers may not realise some types of antihistamine will make them sleepy and are therefore not safe to take before getting behind the wheel.
This year the Met Office has already reported a ‘pollen boom’ and there are fears many motorists may be resorting to stronger medications to keep their hay fever symptoms at bay.
Figures show two thirds of UK drivers feel warning on the drugs’ packaging should be clearer if they can make a person unfit to drive and 65 per cent of motorists think doctors and pharmacists should offer clearer advice when prescribing certain medications.
West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner John Campion said: “There is no excuse for drug driving and I hope these figures send a clear message about how seriously the offence is taken in West Mercia.”