More drivers are being caught under the influence of drugs, reported La Libre on Sunday. But that number is reportedly just the tip of the iceberg.
Drug use was discovered in 913 accidents on the road in 2020, according to road safety institute Vias. In the first six months of 2021, the figure had already risen to 547 although the institute estimates that the number is much higher.
Drug use as concerning as alcohol consumption
"Drugs in traffic are as important a concern for us as alcohol," said Graham Vershaeve, Director of Operations at the Federal Traffic Police. He added that thanks to increasing amounts of saliva tests that the police receive, from 36,000 in 2020 to 100,000 in 2022, it is possible to discover if drivers are under the influence. The uptake in testing is why more people have tested positive.
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The Federal Police recorded 5,060 drivers caught under the influence of drugs during checks in Flanders during the first 6 months of 2021. It a record breaking amount, which in just six months is two thirds of the total number of cases in 2020, which was 7,619.
In 2019, 3,191 drivers were caught under the influence of drugs, while there 7,038 incidents for the whole year.
Belgium - a haven for drugs
Over the past 10 years, the number of drug-related crimes has gone up in Belgium.
In 2018, the Belgian Federal Police registered over 58,000 drug-related crimes, according to Statista, a consumer data company. Flanders was the region with most reported drug use and cases with possession of drugs.
Belgium has the unfortunate statistic of being the European top five in terms of highest amounts of seized cocaine. Most shipments arrive from Ecuador and are sent to Antwerp.