The real cost of drugs in workplaces and on roads

What’s the real cost of drugs in our workplaces and on our roads? Counting drug testing fails may be one measure, but it’s far from the most important. Credit Michael Theis

NT drug testing fail just one of string of charges

What’s the real cost  of drugs in our workplaces and on our roads and what measures should we use? Is it the number of failed drug testing results? Is it the cost in dollars to business, in the case drugs in workplaces, and society in general, in the case of drugs on our roads? Is it the cost of fines, loss of licences and loss of jobs? Or, is it actually something more substantial than all these?

Our questions follow a tragic roadside accident last week in Alice Springs, in the NT. A 57-year-old cyclist was killed when he was hit by a vehicle while taking part in a cycling event. As tragic as the accident is, what makes it even more heart-breaking is that the accident should never have happened.

Drug testing by NT Police allegedly showed that the driver of the vehicle that struck the cyclist was under the influence of an illicit drug, methamphetamines. In addition, according to an NT Police media release, police found an amount of drugs close to where the accident occurred. Following forensic testing, police alleged that the man hid the drugs in the location immediately following the accident.

The driver has been charged with a string of offences, including dangerous driving causing death, supply of a schedule 1 dangerous drug, possession of a trafficable quantity of a schedule 1 dangerous drug and driving under the influence of a drug.

Alice Springs Cycling Club President, Max Yffer, said in an ABC News article that the cycling community was devastated by the incident.

“He was a keen rider, and a family man. It’s just tragic. People recognise the detrimental impact such a death can have on people,” Mr Yffer is quoted as saying in the article.

Queensland also highlighting the impact of drugs

While the impact of drugs, and the reasons for drug testing, are perhaps best illustrated by the NT tragedy, Alice Spring and the Northern Territory is certainly not the only area feeling the pain of drugs.

In Queensland, the unwelcome statistic of 50 lives lost in the calendar year was surpassed recently. According to the Mirage News, the figure was brought up in just 64 days. At the same time in 2020 the death toll was 32. A key part of the rise has been motorcyclists, with 19 of the fatalities involving a motorcycle rider, compared with six at the same time last year.

Of course, drugs are not the only reason for the increased road toll in Queensland, but it certainly is one of them. According to the article, officers from the Road Policing Task Force are conducting enforcement activities across regional roads targeting heavy vehicles, speed, fatigue, drink, drug and distracted driving.

The weekend before last, 100 drivers failed alcohol testing and 84 failed drug testing during police operations. Since a major operation to reduce the road toll began on March 1, nearly 2000 drug tests have been conducted, with 297 drivers failing drug testing. The positive rate of over 15% is clearly worrying Queensland Police.


What’s the real cost of drugs in our workplaces and on our roads? Counting drug testing fails may be one measure, but it’s far from the most important. Credit Michael Theis

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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