I have always enjoyed driving!
In 1978 at age eleven I drove for the first time and it was a mini. My uncle owned a coach and minibus company in Southend on Sea called UMBH and I worked Saturday morning cleaning out the coaches for the grand sum of ₤1.50.
It wasn’t the money that made me want to work at the yard, it was learning about engines and how it all works. A few months later I was moving the 52 seater coaches around the yard and it was a dream come true.
I have been very lucky, I have driven coaches, motorbikes, quad bikes, fire appliances (engine) airport crash and civilian support, a tank, an artillery gun called an FH70 powered by a VW engine, various trucks from a military 4 ton to an articulated truck that I was allowed to have a play with on site whilst waiting for a crane to arrive and many incredible cars on and off road.
So it was a difficult decision to stop driving, it wasn’t because DVLA or my doctor had said I needed to but because the pain meds I’m on.
I started to realise that although my driving was still okay, my responses were a bit slow and I was concerned that if it came to someone pulling out on me or a child running out in the road, I might not respond quick enough to stop in time!
The official guidance is to be careful when starting new meds or increasing the dose but once you are used to the dose you can drive if you feel safe to do so. Some medication states that you can’t drive, always read the leaflet!
New laws are now in place in the UK where you can be charged for driving whilst impaired through use of illegal and prescription drugs.
On 2 March 2015 the drug driving law changed to make it easier for the police to catch and convict drug drivers.
How drugs impair driving;
Driving under the influence of drugs is extremely dangerous and can affect driving skills in a number of ways.
Drug drivers can suffer from slower reaction times, erratic and aggressive behaviour, and inability to concentrate properly, nausea, hallucinations, panic attacks, paranoia, tremors ‘the shakes’, dizziness and fatigue.
Additionally, during the phase whilst the effects of drugs are wearing off the taker may feel fatigued – affecting concentration levels. In such conditions it is a bad idea to be behind the wheel of a car, for the driver and their passengers as well as for other road users.
Driving in any of these conditions is a bad idea – not just for the driver but for their passengers and other road users.
It is now an offence to drive with certain drugs above a specified level in your blood – just as it is with drink driving. Sixteen legal and illegal drugs are covered by the law, including cannabis, cocaine, ecstasy and ketamine. The limits for all illegal drugs are extremely low – taking even a very small amount of an illegal drug could put you over the limit.
The new offence will work alongside the existing offence of driving whilst impaired through drink or drugs
The penalties for drug driving are the same as for drink driving. If you are convicted you will receive:
- A minimum 12-month driving ban
- A criminal record
- A fine of up to £5000 or up to 6 months in prison or both
The consequences of a drug drive conviction are far reaching and can include:
- Job loss
- Loss of independence
- The shame of having a criminal record
- Increase in car insurance costs
- Trouble getting in to countries like the USA
So whilst it can be essential to drive to keep our independence, is it really worth it?