A drop in the rate of roadside drug and alcohol testing in Queensland is being raised as a potential reason for a rise in the road toll in the state.
Like most states and territories in Australia, Queensland stopped conducting normal large-scale drug and alcohol testing during the first wave of COVID-19 because it was felt the practice would provide a risk to both police officers and drivers. Drug and alcohol testing was carried out in Queensland, but it was more targeted. For example, those drivers involved in incidents were tested, as were those who police suspected could be under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
A potential link has been made between the decision to stop normal drug and alcohol testing in Queensland and the road toll, which is up by more than 30 on the same time last year.
In a recent Brisbane Times article, they revealed that two government employees who spoke on the condition of anonymity linked poor driver behaviour and increased drink and drug-driving to the decision to reduce drug and alcohol testing.
“They argued the breath tests were a powerful deterrent and the decision to cancel them should not have been publicised,” the article said.
While Queensland Police have stated that drug and alcohol testing did continue, and wasn’t stopped completely, the decision has now been called into question by a Queensland opposition police spokesperson Dan Purdie, who is a former police officer.
He said that it is justified to ask whether the decision to reduce drug and alcohol testing on Queensland roads led to a reduced deterrent, and drivers then thought they could drive under the influence and get away with it.
“We definitely need to look at the statistics around police stopping roadside drug and alcohol testing,” Mr Purdie said in the article.
In the same Queensland Times article, a police spokesman said there was no evidence that the rise in the road toll this year can be solely attributed to the decision.
The spokesperson said in the article, “Concerningly, throughout the year police have seen incidents of reckless driving which could be attributed to many factors including the opportunity to drive faster with roads less congested, Queensland police continue to roll out road-safety operations targeting high-risk road users across Queensland.”
Workplace drug and alcohol testing in Queensland
Like on our roadsides, the rate of drug and alcohol testing in workplaces in Queensland and around Australia also dropped from around mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. At the time, Integrity Sampling expressed concerns in the reduction of drug and alcohol testing in workplaces, due to the safety risks.
Eight months later and there’s certainly no reason for high-risk industries, such as transport, distribution/warehousing, manufacturing and construction, not to return to normal levels of workplace drug and alcohol testing. While the threat of COVID-19 still exists, it has reduced in all parts of Australia.
At the same time, at Integrity Sampling, our technicians are continuing to take extra precautions. They have all undergone COVID-19 infection control training and are following strict procedures at all times.
If you have any questions about workplace drug and alcohol testing in Queensland or any parts of Australia during COVID-19, contact Integrity Sampling today.
Can a decision to reduce roadside drug and alcohol testing in Queensland be to blame for the rising road toll? Credit Highway Patrol Images https://www.flickr.com/photos/special-fx/5223497342/