Thursday, April 14, 2005

Drug-driving overtakes drink-driving in Victoria

ABC News Online

Police figures show driving under the influence of drugs is now more than three times more prevalent than drink-driving.

Victorian police are conducting a year-long trial of random roadside drug testing for cannabis and methamphetamines.

They are mainly concentrating their efforts around rave parties and on interstate truck routes.

The saliva tests were modified earlier this year after some positive results later showed up negative in laboratory testing.

Police Minister Tim Holding says the tests are now proving successful and reliable, but the results are alarming.

"We're now very confident that the technology is working effectively and that the police personnel are operating the tests appropriately," he said.

"We've now conducted over 4,600 tests and we're very, very concerned that one in 73 Victorians has tested positive to drug-driving in the four months that the trial has been under way."

He says a decision on whether the saliva tests will be fully adopted will not be made until the end of the trial in December.

"We have to be a little bit cautious with the figures because unlike our booze buses, which are in a sense more random, we have been using the drug-driving bus particularly targeting rave parties and the parts of our road network that are heavily used by truck drivers, but nevertheless the results are still very, very concerning," he said.
Approach questioned

The Youth Affairs Council believes a broader education campaign is needed to deter drug driving.

Executive officer, Georgie Ferrari, says many young people think it is safe to drive on drugs.

"Victoria Police would be well suited to target a campaign around young people dispelling those myths, and educating young people on the dangers, rather than just putting a bus outside a rave party."

The Law Institute of Victoria is concerned the results of the drug tests are too limited.

Chief executive John Cain says the tests do not show if using drugs actually affects a person's driving.

"People will be saddled with the stigma of a drug-related criminal record for a driving offence in circumstances where there's absolutely no impairment to the person's capacity to drive," Mr Cain said.

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