Booze takes back seat in stats Drugs now big­gest road risk

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - BETTINA WAR­BUR­TON

DRUG driv­ing has over­taken drink driv­ing as a se­ri­ous threat on North Queens­land roads.

The lat­est statis­tics re­veal a 187 per cent in­crease in the num­ber of pos­i­tive road­side drug tests in the North­ern Po­lice Re­gion.

Dur­ing the 2016- 17 fi­nan­cial year, 1661 road­side drug tests came back pos­i­tive.

Dur­ing the 2015- 16 fi­nan­cial year, 578 road­side drug test came back pos­i­tive.

Statis­tics on the num­ber of road­side drug tests car­ried out by po­lice were not avail­able in the Queens­land Po­lice Ser­vice’s an­nual sta­tis­ti­cal re­view.

But Townsville Road Polic­ing Unit of­fi­cer- in- charge Se­nior Sergeant Bren­dan White said po­lice had in­creased the num­ber of road­side drug tests.

“Ev­ery year we in­crease the num­ber of test­ings that we do,” he said. “Ob­vi­ously if you in­crease test­ing, the chances of catch­ing more of­fend­ers dra­mat­i­cally in­crease as well.”

Sen Sgt White said it was clear that drug driv­ing was over­tak­ing drink driv­ing as a con­cern for po­lice.

“There are a con­sid­er­able num­ber of drug driv­ers get­ting around,” he said. “And that is very con­cern­ing.”

Sen Sgt White said com­mu­nity per­cep­tion about drug driv­ing needed to change.

“Drink driv­ing is con­sid­ered so­cially un­ac­cept­able th­ese days, and we need to get the same thought in re­gards to drug driv­ing,” he said. “Most drug driv­ers aren’t drink driv­ers.

“A lot of peo­ple are more care­ful with their drink­ing and driv­ing, and we need to get the same mind­set for drug driv­ing. We need to get friends to stop their friends drug driv­ing, like they of­ten do for drink driv­ing.”

The lat­est statis­tics showed a slight de­crease in the num­ber of drink driv­ing of­fences recorded for the past fi­nan­cial year against the pre­vi­ous fi­nan­cial year.

In 2016- 17 there were 3576 peo­ple nabbed for drink driv­ing in the North­ern Po­lice Re­gion, with the pre­vi­ous year record­ing 3944.

Sen Sgt White said the road­side drug test looked for two types of metham­phetamine as well as cannabis.

“In the fu­ture other drugs will be added to the list of what the saliva drug test will be look­ing for,” he said. “If a driver is found to be nega­tive on a road­side breath test but was show­ing signs of be­ing af­fected by some­thing other than liquor that’s when po­lice con­duct the drug test.

“We will con­tinue to in­crease the num­ber of road­side drug tests.”

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