Alcohol and drugs play a part in Western Australia’s road carnage


More people were killed on the roads in Western Australia than in any other year since 2008. And while there are many factors to blame for the rise, two factors that continually raise their ugly heads are drugs and alcohol.

One hundred and ninety four people were killed on Western Australian roads in 2016, a jump of 33 from 2015 and just over 20 more than the average for the previous 5 years. The number of fatalities on regional Western Australian roads is of particular concern, with a rise of 32 deaths from 2015. The number of fatalities on regional roads in 2016 was the highest since 2007.

The figures have prompted Western Australia’s State Government to spend $2.6 million on a summer road safety campaign, targeting the factors that are known to contribute most to road fatalities.

These factors include:

  • Speeding
  • Failure to wear seatbelts
  • Mobile phone distraction
  • Driving while under the influence of drugs (20% of road trauma victims in 2014 had an illegal drug in their system, while in the same year, 32% of motorcycle fatalities involved illegal drugs).
  • Driving while under the influence of alcohol (around 20% of fatal crashes in WA have drink driving as a factor, costing the state around $235 million each year).

Road Safety Commissioner Kim Papalia said, “Most drivers in WA do the right thing on our roads, but we know there is that small group of people who through their attitude and action represent risk on our roads.”

Mr Papalia added that the rise in regional road fatalities reflected a national trend and posed a challenge for regional communities.

“If you continue to drive when you’re tired, if you choose to drive when you’ve been drinking or have used drugs, even prescription medication if it has warnings, if you don’t wear a seatbelt or you travel at a speed that isn’t appropriate to your experience or the circumstances you’re faced with, then regrettably the consequences may be sudden and fatal,” Mr Papalia said.

Drugs and alcohol in the workplace

Are there links that can be drawn between drugs and alcohol on Western Australian roads and drugs and alcohol in WA workplaces?

The simple answer is yes.

While the numbers of generally higher on the roads, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that people who are willing to take risks on our roads by drinking or taking drugs and driving are more likely to be willing to take the same risks in the workplace.

In addition:

  • A 2013 report by the Australian Drug Foundation found that 5% of fatalities in the workplace involved alcohol.
  • The percentage of workplace fatalities involving drugs are estimated to also be around 5%. This means that 10% of all Australian workplace fatalities are related to drugs or alcohol.
  • The same 2013 Australian Drug Foundation report states that 11% of all workplace injuries can be attributed to alcohol.
  • It’s estimated that 20% to 25% of all workplace accidents are related to drugs or alcohol.
  • In a confidential study, 1 in 5 Australians have confessed to going to work drunk or under the influence of alcohol.

On the roads, the Western Australian police will be conducting thousands of random drug tests and alcohol tests in an effort to reduce the road trauma. Similar drug testing and alcohol testing can also save lives and prevent accidents in our workplaces.

Source: Western Australia Road Safety Commission
In 2014, on Western Australian roads, 32% of motorcycle fatalities involved illegal drugs. Drugs and alcohol on our roads a deadly mix? You bet.

By Michael

Michael is the founder of Integrity Sampling and is responsible for overseeing all national operations. He is based at Integrity Sampling's head office in Melbourne and is also responsible for the co-ordination of drug and alcohol testing within Victoria, assisting in the implementation of drug and alcohol (fit for work) policies and the presentation of drug and alcohol education and awareness programs. You can connect with Michael Wheeldon on LinkedIn

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