AWSR: ‘One in ten road fatalities in Wallonia is drug-related’
The Walloon Agency for Road Safety (l’Agence Walonne pour la Sécurité Routière, AWSR) warns against using drugs while driving. Figures indicate that the use of drugs causes one in ten fatalities on Walloon roads. One Walloon in twenty also admits driving under the influence of drugs.
In Flanders, we see the same tendency. Last year, the police recorded 7 539 offenses against the law on driving under the influence of drugs. That is an increase of 8% compared to 2019 (6 983 offenses) according to figures from the federal police.
Today, drugs like cannabis, cocaine, laughing gas… seem to be part of daily life. Cannabis even is the most popular drug in Wallonia. One in five Walloons says he’s at least been using drugs once. But, just like alcohol, drugs are becoming more and more socially banalized.
That is why the AWSR warns drivers that the use of drugs while driving or riding a bike can have serious consequences on the road. Not only for the driver but also for passengers and other road users.
In 2020, 23 people died on Walloon roads in drug-related accidents. The use of drugs causes almost one in ten fatal accidents. And the risk for an accident is multiplied by three or even thirty, depending on the type and quantity of drugs.
Drinks and drugs
Drugs may influence people’s behavior. The driver can have difficulties maintaining readability, driving at a constant pace, and the correct estimation of distances. He cannot concentrate and has delayed reactions.
Combining drugs and alcohol even multiplies the risks by 200. Still, for most drug users, the use of drugs is equally linked with alcohol. According to Corinne Charlier, professor in toxicology at the University in Liège, the combination of alcohol and drugs deteriorates someone’s road behavior significantly.
“The use of cannabis, for instance, seriously influences one’s perception of distance”, she explains. “Cocaine influences one’s vision, and some users even have aural or visual hallucinations.” One glass of alcohol combined with drugs already multiplies the risk for a serious accident by 20 or up to 200.
The police are planning to increase the number of controls and saliva tests. When it comes to drugs, the police apply zero-tolerance. In 2020, more than 2 430 infringements of driving under the influence of drugs were registered in Wallonia. Two times more than in 2015. It shows that police controls are more and more frequent and useful. And that some still take too many risks on the road.