SWOV Catalogus

124342

Random drug testing of drivers in Victoria.
C 45691 (In: C 45677 [electronic version only]) /73 / ITRD E217794
Hastings, R.J. & Boorman, M.C.
In: Proceedings the 13th International Conference on Road Safety on Four Continents, Warsaw, Poland 5-7 October 2005, 13 p., 5 ref.

Samenvatting In Victoria the contribution of alcohol and other drugs to road trauma has been identified as a significant factor. Victoria acted to address alcohol related road trauma in the early 1960s by adopting a legislative framework based on the risk of collision involvement rather than on presence of impairment by prohibiting the driving of a motor vehicle with and blood alcohol concentration exceeding 0.05 per cent. In 1976 police were given legislative authority to randomly screen drivers for the presence of alcohol and prosecute drivers found with a blood alcohol concentration exceeding .05 per cent. The aim of the random alcohol screening program was not only to detect and prosecute errant drivers but to generally deter drivers from driving with blood alcohol levels that increase the risk of collision involvement. The past thirty years has seen a significant reduction of the contribution of drunkenness to road trauma in Victoria through the general deterrentt of this type of enforcement. The emergence of increased involvement of drugs other than alcohol in road trauma in Victoria led to legislation being introduced in 2000 to detect and prosecute drivers found to be impaired by drugs other than alcohol. Unlike the alcohol provisions, the drug impaired driving legislation is based on the recognition of observable impairment in drivers. The impairment based legislation has been successful in detecting drivers that display visible signs of impairment and represent a high risk of collision involvement. However, the impairment based program does not address the increased collision involvement risk of drug using drivers when driver impairment is not readily observable. Moreover, the impairment based program may not provide a high level of deterrence from using drugs and driving as the enforcement is not generally highly visible. Only the drivers directly involved in the enforcement process by virtue of their interception become aware that enforcement is taking place. In December 2004 a legislative framework modelled on the successful random alcohol screening methodology for the random drug screening of drivers was introduced in Victoria. The legislative framework for the random drug screening has been introduced on a trial basis for a twelve month period. The effectiveness of the program will be evaluated at the conclusion of the trial period. The program is based on research that demonstrates the use of illicit drugs by drivers, particularly the use of stimulant type drugs such as methamphetamine and cannabis (THC), represents an increase in the risk of collision involvement and therefore road trauma. The framework prohibits driving while methamphetamine and cannabis (THC), is present, at any level, and for police to randomly drug test drivers for the presence of the drugs by saliva sample screening at the roadside. The new drug screening program has the potential to prevent and therefore substantially reduce road trauma in the same way as the alcohol screening program has over the past thirty years. The preliminary results of the random drug screening program clearly indicate this potential may be realised (A). For the covering abstract of the conference see ITRD E217780.
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