Calls to include opioids in NSW roadside drug testing

Should heroin and in fact prescription opioids be targeted by roadside drug testing in NSW? Credit Highway Patrol Images

While there are always people who would like to see roadside drug testing decreased, there are those that would like to see it increased and extended to improve safety. Like a NSW MP, who has called for police to include heroin in the drugs targeted.

In a North West Star article, MP Rod Roberts said not including heroin in NSW roadside drug testing was very concerning.

“You can be whacked out of your head on heroin and test negative and be told drive on,” he said in the article.

Currently, NSW roadside drug testing targets four illegal drugs. They are ecstasy, cannabis, methamphetamine and cocaine.

The call from the MP comes amid worrying statistics in New South Wales. This includes a 25 per cent increase in the road toll so far in 2024, compared to the same time last year. It also includes a high rate of roadside drug testing positives of 15 per cent in 2022/23.

Should prescription opioids also be targeted in NSW roadside drug testing?

It’s not just heroin, an illegal form of an opioid, which is under the microscope. Mr Roberts, a former police member, said in the North West Star article that we should also be looking at the role that prescription medication is playing on the road toll.

And he’s not alone. In fact, there are growing calls for more research into the role that prescription medication has on traffic accidents. Prescription drugs like fentanyl and oxycodone, which are also opioids and are prescribed to around 1.5 million people every year.

There are some high profile cases in NSW of road tragedies that may have caused in part by prescription drugs. These include the Hunter Valley bus accident where 10 wedding guests were tragically killed. The driver was affected by prescription drugs when he was driving the bus and had an addiction to opioids that alarmed doctors and employers.

A Transport for NSW spokesperson said in another North West Star article that opioids are not on the list of drugs targeted by drug testing because they are prescribed for pain management.

“Prescription opioids can affect the skills required for safe driving and increase crash risk,” the spokesperson said in the article.

“However, the national medical standards for assessing fitness to drive advise that people on stable doses of opioid analgesics may not have a higher risk of a crash than the general population, providing they are not abusing other impairing drugs.”


Should heroin and in fact prescription opioids be targeted by roadside drug testing in NSW? Credit Highway Patrol Images

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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