Drugs a new driving danger
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.