Booze takes back seat in stats Drugs now biggest road risk
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.”