For the first time ever in the county's history drug drivers caught by police outstripped arrested drink drivers.

During November, 125 drivers were arrested on suspicion of drug driving while 114 people were arrested on suspicion of drink driving in Essex.

A further 34 people were arrested on suspicion of failing to provide a specimen.

Adam Pipe, head of roads policing, said: “These figures are staggering and really highlight how much of an issue drug driving in Essex is.

“We’ve always known it was an issue but we’re now really seeing the full extent of it.

“Part of the reason we’re seeing more people arrested for drug driving offences is the fact we have more equipment with which to test drivers but it also shows how prevalent it is.

“We find that 98 percent of drug drivers are male and most are between the age of 17 and 25. We tend to see more people with cannabis in their system than cocaine and many people aren’t aware of how long it stays in your system.

“The easiest way to avoid being caught drug driving is just not to do it at all.”

The police's Christmas anti-drink and drug driving campaign is now in full swing, with 91 people arrested during the first nine days.

Just over a third of those were for drug driving.

Mr Pipe added: “If you’re driving under the influence you are being unbelievably reckless and risking your life as well as those of other road users.

“We find a lot of people caught drink or drug driving are only doing short journeys so think there’s a low risk of getting caught. That is absolutely not the case.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re driving one mile, 10 miles, or 100 miles - if you’re drink drink or drug driving you’re dangerous and you could kill someone.

“This Christmas please drive safe, drive sober so you don’t find out how it feels."