Drugs a new driv­ing danger

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - CHRIS MCMA­HON chris. mcma­hon@ news. com. au

NEARLY twice as many peo­ple have been busted high on drugs while be­hind the wheel than were caught drink driv­ing in Townsville so far this year.

Shock­ing sta­tis­tics show that, from Jan­uary 1 to yes­ter­day, just un­der 150 mo­torists re­turned pos­i­tive drug tests in ran­dom swab­bings while about 80 were caught drunk by the Townsville Road Po­lice unit.

And the num­ber of drug driv­ers could be even higher, with the cur­rent test­ing model not re­quir­ing a drug check when al­co­hol is de­tected first.

Se­nior po­lice say the an­tidrink driv­ing mes­sage has been driven home to the com­mu­nity but peo­ple who get high and de­cide to drive still be­lieve they won’t get caught.

Townsville Road Po­lice of­fi­cer- in- charge act­ing Se­nior Sergeant Rob Nalder said the grow­ing num­ber of drug driv­ers was be­com­ing the norm.

“For many, many years drug driv­ing has not been de­tectable un­less you took blood but you can now do a very quick saliva swab and iden­tify it much quicker,” he said.

“It’s like drink driv­ing 20 or 30 years ago. There were drink driv­ers all over the place and it wasn’t hard to get two or three in a shift. Now they are very hard to find, where drug driv­ers are very promi­nent. Peo­ple haven’t caught up with the idea like they have with drink driv­ing, a lot of peo­ple don’t recog­nise it as se­ri­ous.

“This is why there is such a push on do­ing saliva tests … we are try­ing to get the mes­sage out there, if you con­sume il­licit drugs there is a high chance you will be de­tected.”

In his reg­u­lar role, Sen- Sgt Nalder heads the Townsville Foren­sic Crash Unit and said it was never easy speak­ing with the loved ones of those killed in crashes, es­pe­cially when they have died as a re­sult of drink or drug driv­ing.

“We are see­ing quite a few is­sues with drugs, ice and metham­phetamine,” Sen- Sgt Nalder said.

“We don’t find it in most crashes, it may be 20 to 30 per cent, maybe.

“( There are) times we have to talk to fam­ily mem­bers and work out what the habits of these peo­ple are and un­for­tu­nately at times we have to ask dif­fi­cult ques­tions about what type of user the de­ceased was and on some oc­ca­sions they have no idea their loved one is a user of il­licit drugs.

“It is very con­fronting, no one wants to know their beloved that has died was highly in­tox­i­cated.”

Sen- Sgt Nalder said par­ents needed to speak with their chil­dren about the dan­gers of drink and drug driv­ing.

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