A NEW drug driving campaign has been launched to try and teach motorists that illegal substances stay in their system longer than they might anticipate.

Essex Police are now more likely to catch drug drivers than ever before and have launched the new initiative alongside the Safer Essex Roads Partnership (SERP).

The force want to highlight that drugs are still in the system even if users do not feel stoned and could still show up in a roadside test and have produced amusing videos and graphics to attract attention but ram home the devastating consequences of drug driving.

Their promotional video shows a man spending the day with a human-size cannabis leaf after smoking the drug one evening before being arrested for drug driving the next day.

Head of roads policing Adam Pipe said: “By the end of this year we’ll have seen as many drug drive arrests in 2019 as in 2017 and 2018 combined.

“Drug drivers tell my officers they don’t think they’ll get caught.

"The reality is we’ve more than 600 officers trained to use drug wipes so you’re actually more likely to get caught than ever before.

“Drug drivers also tell us that taking drugs is part of their lifestyle, part of their daily routine.

"What they don’t realise is that drugs stick around in your system.

“Even if you don’t look or feel stoned you could still be over the drug driving limit, and if you’re stopped and drug wiped you’ll be arrested.

“Drugs are illegal so you shouldn’t be taking them anyway, but if you are going to please don’t get behind the wheel.”

“We’ve talked a lot about drug driving in the last 18 months but it seems the message isn’t getting through so we’ve decided to take a different and radical approach to raising awareness to the issue.

“We’re using humour to attract attention to it but that in no way means we’re downplaying the seriousness of it or how devastating the consequences can be.

“Drug driving shatters lives. It’s a factor in a round a quarter of all the serious or fatal collisions we investigate. It is unacceptable and it is completely avoidable.

“The way we’ve been talking about drug driving obviously hasn’t been working so we have to approach it in a different way.

“If you’re convicted of drug driving you’ll lose your licence for at least a year. That could impact on your ability to work and pay your bills meaning you could also lose your job and your home.

“Worse than that, if you drug drive you could kill yourself or someone else.

“Is the high worth the low?”

The campaign is being run during the traditional Christmas anti-drink and driving period but is not specifically festive related.

More people have been arrested on suspicion of drug driving in Essex in 2019 than drink driving, and around a quarter of all the serious or fatal collisions police investigate have a drugs element.

SERP chairman Nicola Foster added: “The number of arrests for drug driving is both shocking and saddening.

“Taking drugs and then driving are two things that simply don’t mix well. You might feel fine but if you are over the drug drive limit, you are risking your life as well as the lives of others.

“1,500 drivers arrested in Essex this year thought they wouldn’t get caught, or weren’t aware of the limit.

“Please don’t let your choices hurt someone else.”