OLDER DRIVERS NOT TEENS A BIGGER RISK OF DRUG DRIVING: NEW REPORT

THE WAR ON DRUGS HAS HIT THE ROAD, BUT IF THE LATEST STUDY IS A GUIDE DRIVERS AREN’T GETTING THE MESSAGE.

OLDER DRIVERS NOT TEENS A BIGGER RISK OF DRUG DRIVING: NEW REPORT

THE WAR ON DRUGS HAS HIT THE ROAD, BUT IF THE LATEST STUDY IS A GUIDE DRIVERS AREN’T GETTING THE MESSAGE.

A survey commissioned by the Australian Road Safety Foundation found 20 per cent of drivers aged 25 to 34 admitted to driving under the influence of drugs — and weren’t caught despite being tested.

The study showed drivers in that age group were also twice as likely to drug and drive than those in their teens and early twenties.

Disturbingly, the same age group also viewed illicit substances as being less dangerous than driving drunk.

The survey of more than 1000 motorists across all age groups comes in the lead-up to the 10th anniversary of “Fatality Free Friday”, 27 May 2016.

Police across Australia are increasing the number of roadside drug tests — and arrests — as the “swab” technology gets cheaper and more officers are trained.

National figures show one in four drivers involved in fatal crashes in the previous 12 months were under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

A fortnight after being issued a three month driving ban and fined $600 after getting caught behind the wheel under the influence of drugs, Jenny, 39, from the Gold Coast, said she had no idea how easy it was to get busted — or about the impact drugs can have on drivers.

“This was a massive wake-up call for me,” said Jenny. “I had some meth (amphetamine) at midnight on a Friday and was stopped at an RBT at 4:30pm on a Saturday and the drugs were still in my system.”

Jenny enroled in a Queensland traffic offenders program that runs for one night a week for three weeks, before her court hearing.

“I couldn’t drive for 24 hours straight after the roadside test, and they sent the sample away for further testing. When it came back as confirmed positive I had to attend court.”

Jenny was allowed to drive for two months, until her court date in early April, but she’s now off the road for three months.

“If you do the crime, you do the time,” she said. “But I’m thankful it was only three months. I won’t be tempted to drive under the influence of drugs ever again. It’s definitely scared me.”

Jenny said most casual drug users have no idea how driving can be impaired by illicit substances.

“I think it will be an uphill battle for police,” she said. “Sadly there will always be people who don’t care or don’t think they will get caught. But they will either get caught or end up hurting someone else or themselves.”

Police figures show the percentage of drivers who return a positive roadside reading for drugs (15 per cent in NSW) are significantly higher than those who test positive for alcohol (0.3 per cent, or 18,908 from 6,115,797 RBTs in NSW in the 2014-15 financial year).

However, that is because police in most states target known areas and only test drivers they suspect of being under the influence of an illicit substance.

Drug driving, how the states compare

Tests conducted versus roadside positive results

Victoria: 100,000 — 6637 — 7 per cent of those tested

NSW: 62,518 — 9295 — 15 per cent of those tested

South Australia: 52,493 — 4945 — 9 per cent of those tested

West Australia: 27,696 — 2797 — 10 per cent of those tested

Queensland: 20,747 — 3178 — 15 per cent of those tested

Tasmania: 3431 — 1770 — 52 per cent of those tested

Source: Police in each state, figures from 2014 to 2015 financial year.

This reporter is on Twitter: @JoshuaDowling

Joshua Dowling

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