Herald Sun 27 November 2013
One in 11. What does that figure mean to you? To police working Operation Raid this month it was a figure that astounded them. We told drivers we would be out there conducting drug and alcohol testing across the state. It was on the news, it was in the papers. But we still managed to detect one in 11 motorists who tested positive to driving with illicit drugs in their system – and that figure is almost double the yearly average of detections. Drug-driving is a significant issue that appears to be increasing across Victoria and we need to intervene now. We know impaired drivers are a major contributor to road trauma and have been engaged in a battle to remove them from our roads since motor vehicles first became an integral part of society.
….In December 2004 legislation prohibiting the driving of vehicles with any level of the illicit drugs speed and cannabis was introduced and in September 2006 ecstasy was added to the list. Police were also able to conduct roadside drug tests by saliva sample screening. VICTORIA Police conducts about 3.5-4 million alcohol screening tests a year and 42,000 roadside drug tests. Last year, one in 20 drivers was found to have one or more of the illicit drugs present while driving and one in 238 was found to be driving with a BAC higher than 0.05. In 2005 drugs of all types were present in almost 40 per cent of drivers killed on Victorian roads, with illicit drugs present in 24.4 per cent of drivers. By 2009 the presence of all drugs had decreased to almost 32 per cent and the presence of illicit drugs had dropped to 15 per cent. But the presence of drugs of all types in Victorian drivers killed in 2010 and 2011 increased dramatically, returning to the levels seen in 2005.
Robert Hill is Road Policing Command Assistant Commissioner of Victoria Police.