Published Wednesday, 03 April 2013
Prescription and illegal drugs were found in fatal crash victims. (© Getty)
Almost a quarter of all dead drivers and riders analysed in the last three years had drugs in their bodies.
That is an increase of 21%, figures released by the Department Of Environment show.
A panel of experts have called for more information about the risks of taking drugs and driving.
Panel chair Dr Kim Wolff said: "We are particularly concerned about the need to raise awareness among the general public about the risks associated with drug-driving, especially the elevated risks when psychoactive drugs are consumed with alcohol, and recommend that this is a key road safety issue and should be addressed as a priority."
A DoE campaign described drugs driving as "widespread throughout Northern Ireland".
The panel also recommended blood samples should be collected at all crashes and examined a universal list of substances. A similar system is used in Norway.
"This system would facilitate the evaluation of drug prevalence from a road safety perspective and provide much-needed evidence of the consequences of driving," the report said.
The safety of long-distance drivers who may not be aware of the effects of some drugs should be highlighted, and the report also said clubbing or festival event organisers should be further educated.
The research said special attention should be paid to the risks by healthcare professionals to those aged over 65 who are prescribed opiods.
"Laboratories engaged in forensic work should be encouraged to screen routinely for a wider range of illicit drugs so as to establish a more accurate picture of the type of substance prevalent in those suspected of driving under the influence of drugs," the panel's report said.
© UTV News