Clubbers who have taken illegal drugs could be in serious danger when driving

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New research carried out by the University of Surrey has revealed that clubbers who have taken illegal drugs could be in serious danger when driving home after a night out.

The study suggests the effects of illicit drugs like ecstasy and cocaine during clubbing could dramatically impair the skills needed for driving. Concerns have been raised over the past ten years that an increasing number of drivers who have been killed in road traffic accidents have tested positive for drugs, prompting research. There has been little data to support a causal link between the use of illicit drugs and the risk of being killed in a driving accident.

Professor Ian Hindmarch, of the University of Surrey said, “Recreational drug users need to be informed of the potential effects of illicit drugs on driving. We don’t currently screen for drugs on a regular basis, and this and current research does provide a sound basis for making a connection, which needs to be made much more public”.

The aim of the study was to investigate the effects of unrestricted recreational drug consumption on performance in the clubbing environment. Professor Ian Hindmarch, from the University of Surrey’s Medical Research Centre, tested on 36 regular clubbers who responded to an advert in a music magazine.

The study was divided into two groups - those who were clear from drugs and those who tested positive. Each were put through a series of performance tests assessing sensory arousal, information processing, impulsivity, motor and cognitive skills. The clubbers were tested before and after their trip out in London and were given transport to and from the study base.

The results showed that the 23 clubbers who tested drugs positive, showed a significant difference in scoring points in reaction times, and missed more target sequences. The group was slower with mental manipulation where different parts of the brain are in conflict – which may indicate that the drug group had difficulty concentrating. One of the subjects got 147 wrong responses and another was unable to react correctly to any of the target stimuli.

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