n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - Driving a car under the influence of drugs : a student survey

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A survey was conducted during 2002 amongst 100 university students in order to assess their attitudes towards driving whilst under the influence of drugs and alcohol. The degree to which these individuals make themselves guilty of these offences was also evaluated.

The sample was made up of 57 white students, 34 black students, one coloured student, 7 Asian students, and one Chinese student. The majority students were female, representing 83 percent of the sample. Of the various modes of transport available to the students, 58 percent made use of a car, 14 percent of a bus and 11 percent made use of taxis, trains and bicycles. The remaining 17 percent were primarily pedestrians.
With road accidents accounting for about 10 000 deaths on South African roads annually, driving under the influence of drugs poses a greater threat to the community than initially anticipated. To accentuate the danger posed by these drivers, within the survey no students reported ever having been stopped by police for driving whilst under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This infrequency was, however, not reflected in their reports on making themselves guilty of driving whilst under the influence of illegal drugs.
With cocaine and disconcerting heroin being reported as the most frequently used drugs before climbing into a vehicle, it is to note that the majority of respondents rated driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol as not being particularly serious in nature. In light of the survey, a need was identified for a national research project of this nature in order to not only identify the extent of the problem, but also to implement awareness and preventative campaigns.


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