RAC reports more drug-driving and mobile use by young

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More young motorists are using smartphones at the wheel and driving while on drugs, an RAC survey suggests.

It reports that the proportion of 17- to 24-year-olds who admit driving under the influence of drugs has almost doubled from 5% to 9% in the past year.

And it suggests a rise from 12% to 18% in the proportion of 25- to 44-year-olds who admit accessing email, Facebook and Twitter.

The government said it was determined to tackle the dangerous minority.

But the RAC said government cuts in safety campaigns had had a "damaging effect".

The motoring organisation called for the reintroduction of these campaigns as soon as possible.

Almost half (44%) of all the 1,002 young drivers surveyed said they felt "less safe" on the roads than ever before.

As many as 13% of the 17- to 24-year-olds said they had had either driven, or been a passenger, in a car when the driver was under the influence of drugs.

Three in five of all the motorists interviewed believed there were not enough police vehicles on the roads, and almost one in five thought they would manage to get away even if they broke motoring laws.

There was an overwhelming demand (95%) for some kind of driving ban for those who drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs, with more than half favouring a life ban.

About two of the five motorists interviewed also wanted to see some kind of ban for "illegal" mobile phone use behind the wheel.

'New breed' of offences

RAC technical director David Bizley said: "Government cuts have meant an extremely large drop in spending on road safety campaigns in the past two years, but our 2012 report highlights the damaging effect this is having.

"The growth of the new breed of motoring offences, like drug-driving and social networking behind the wheel, is highly concerning."

He welcomed recent government announcements about tightening enforcement around drug-driving, but said the "planned changes focus too much on penalties rather than prevention".

"Government funding should be directed to educating people through road safety campaigns to deter them from driving dangerously and putting lives at risk."

Road Safety Minister Mike Penning said that alongside the crackdown on the most dangerous drivers, the government was "improving the driver training and testing process to make our roads safer for everyone".

He added: "Despite the need to reduce government spending on advertising, we continue to invest in targeted publicity campaigns to protect the most vulnerable road users and tackle the most dangerous behaviours by a minority of drivers.

"We are also proposing to increase the fine for using a mobile phone while driving from £60 to between £80 and £100 this year."

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