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Choice - Think About It Phase 4: Drugs and Driving 4 October 2006

The Department of Health and Social Security’s Public Health Directorate along with the Isle of Man Constabulary, Department of Transport, DASH (Drug Advice Service Helpline) and the Island’s Pharmacists have launched the fourth phase of the ‘Choice’ Campaign.

This phase of the campaign aims to raise awareness of the risks of driving while under the influence of drugs.

Drug driving is not just confined to illicit drugs - prescription and over the counter medicines also pose a threat to safety. Many drivers appear to be unaware of the dangers of driving under the influence of drugs and that the consequences can lead to serious and fatal injuries to the driver, passengers, and other road users including pedestrians.

Dawn Henley, Senior Health Promotion Officer said: “Both illegal and medicinal drugs can impact on a driver’s ability to drive safely. Illegal drugs can affect a driver in different ways depending on the type of drug and the amount consumed, for example, cannabis can impair concentration and affect a driver’s reaction times. Likewise, driving can be impaired by over-the-counter medicines. A driver may not realise until it is too late and as a consequence they are unable to react quickly to a hazard or situation on the road”.

Sue Harper, Pharmaceutical Adviser said: “Many people on the Isle of Man regularly take drugs such as anti-depressants, painkillers, anti-histamines and cough mixtures, all of which can have a sedative effect, and yet most people probably think it is totally safe for them to drive. These medicines may be either prescribed or purchased over the counter, but the message is still the same, always whatever the medicine, “READ THE small PRINT” either on the label or in the patient information leaflet issued with the medicines. If unsure, contact your pharmacist for advice.

Sergeant John Kinrade said: “The Isle of Man Constabulary treats drug driving in the same way as drink driving. The offence is the same as are the penalties. Drug driving not only relates to illegal drugs such as cannabis and cocaine but also to medicinal drugs and medicines that can be bought over the counter or on prescription. In the eyes of the law - a person shall be taken to be unfit to drive if his/her ability to drive properly is for the time being impaired. Do not drive whilst unfit through drink and/or drugs. Drugs driving – not a safe trip”.

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