What is drug testing in Victoria – at work and on the road – trying to achieve?
If you listen to some people, roadside drug testing is merely a revenue raising tool and would question the validity of testing. The same people are likely to say that drug testing in workplaces is an invasion of freedom and other similar offences.
We wonder what the family of Deborah Locco would say if you asked them what drug testing is trying to achieve. We don’t know, but would guess that their answer would be to save lives.
As highlighted in The Age recently, Deborah Locco was riding along Melbourne’s cycling mecca of Beach Road doing everything she could to be safe. She was clothed in a white jacket and reflective gear, and had flashing lights on her bike even though it wasn’t quite dusk. But that didn’t prevent drug-induced Christopher Hyslop from ploughing her down in his car and then leaving her to die on the road.
You could say that Ms Locco was unlucky. The fact that Hyslop hadn’t already crashed well before their paths tragically crossed was a miracle. Dashcam footage showed Hyslop’s car veering into the wrong lane 14 times before the accident, with one driver having to take evasive action.
You could also say that this was a failure of Victoria’s drug testing program. Because if Hyslop had been stopped by police and tested, with ICE, amphetamines and cannabis in his system, he would have been safely off the road before the accident happened.
According to The Age article, immediately after the incident, Hyslop stopped the car in a side street and left his passengers – two women and a baby – in the car and walked away. He then ordered a ride-share to drive him to his home near Geelong.
Hyslop now claims to have no memory of the accident and that he had likely fallen asleep, but he clearly knew what had occurred. He was heard to repeatedly say, “I hit him, I hit him, We gotta get out of here,” after his car mowed Ms Locco down.
Mr Hyslop recently pleaded guilty to culpable driving causing death, failing to stop after an accident and driving while disqualified. A sentence will be set at a later date.
Victorian drug testing saves lives
According to a new Monash University Accident Research Centre (MUARC) study, roadside drug testing in Victoria is saving lives. And they’ve quantified it.
After evaluating road trauma and drug testing data from previous years, MUARC estimated that increasing roadside drug testing has prevented more than 33 fatalities and 80 serious injuries per year from 2017 onwards.
MUARC say in their report that, “Drink and drug driving behaviours continue to be overrepresented in both serious and fatal injury crashes.”
In the past five years, 18 per cent of drivers and motorcyclists killed in Victoria had illegal blood alcohol levels, and 41 per cent had drugs, both legal and illegal, in their system.
So, in our mind, drug testing saves lives. Unfortunately, not everyone’s life is saved.
Victorian drug testing is saving lives, but unfortunately not everyone is being saved and many people are still dying each year because they take drugs and drive or go to work. Credit Sascha Kohlmann https://www.flickr.com/photos/skohlmann/16457304696/