As we alluded to in one of last week’s posts (see Policing the police with drug testing), many people would like to see less drug testing on our roads, but a Victorian MP disagrees, penning a media release stating why she believes that drug testing in Victoria should be increased.
As well as calling for an increase in roadside drug testing, Member for Northern Victoria, Tania Maxwell MP, wants to see more driver education for young people. The calls are part of her submission to the Victorian Inquiry into the Increase in Victoria’s Road Toll.
While it may have some scratching their heads and others getting hot under the collar, there is evidence to support Ms Maxwell’s calls. This includes a Transport Accident Commission report that shows that in the last 5 years approximately 41% of all drivers and motorcyclists killed who were tested, had drugs in their system. The report also highlights that 25% of Victorians who use recreational drugs have admitted to driving under the influence. Other research has shown that a driver with methylamphetamine in their system (e.g. ICE) is up to 200 times more likely to have a collision.
“If Victoria Police trained and equipped all members to conduct random drug tests, the capacity to get drug affected drivers off our roads would increase exponentially,” Ms Maxell says. “Drugs are surpassing alcohol as a risk factor on Victoria’s roads and something we need to ramp up in order to improve public safety and provide diversion opportunities for drug affected drivers.”
Further supporting Ms Maxwell’s calls is the fact that while alcohol is still a large concern on our roads, as she mentions drugs are surpassing and have surpassed alcohol as a leading cause of accidents. In addition, while drug testing has increased over the years, Ms Maxwell claims that the number of drug tests are only around five percent compared to alcohol testing on Victoria’s roads.
Ms Maxwell said one of the reasons for the difference is that not all police are trained to conduct drug testing and as a result, if a general duties officer suspects drug use, they had to relay the case to Highway Patrol and wait for them to attend a scene. Highway Patrol must then physically see the person driving the motor vehicle before they are able to ask them to submit to a drug test.
Drug testing across the dutch
Across the dutch, sorry ditch, the New Zealand Government are pushing ahead with plans to update their laws associated with roadside drug testing. Essentially, the laws would bring them in line with most Australian states and territories, allowing New Zealand police to conduct random roadside saliva testing on any driver.
In a Mirage News article, Minister of Police Stuart Nash said, “This Government is committed to reducing drug-related harm in our communities. This new law will allow Police to test if drivers are under the influence of drugs anywhere, anytime, just as they do now for alcohol.”
Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter said, “Last year, 103 people died in crashes where the driver was later found to have drugs in their system. We need to do more to stop impaired drivers getting behind the wheel.”
Calls from an MP to increase roadside drug testing in Victoria may have some getting hot under the collar, but there is evidence to support the demands. Credit TAC.