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Test drug drivers

Research shows that Gold Coast motorists support methods to detect drivers under the influence of drugs.
Research shows that Gold Coast motorists support methods to detect drivers under the influence of drugs.

By JADE BILOWOL

THE Gold Coast community has overwhelmingly demanded random drug testing be introduced to nab the 14 per cent of motorists that admit to driving under the influence of illegal drugs.

This has been proven by new AAMI research, based on 1880 Australian drivers' attitudes, behaviours and crash trends, that revealed a staggering 88 per cent of Gold Coast motorists supported random drug testing of drivers.

A Queensland Transport working group has so far failed to provide police with a simple method of detecting drug driving, despite forming in response to a report handed down more than five years ago by the Queensland Parliamentary Travel Safe Committee.

While 14 per cent of Gold Coast motorists admitted to driving behind the wheel after using marijuana, speed, cocaine or ecstasy, four per cent believed it was safer to drive under the influence of recreational drugs than alcohol.

AAMI corporate affairs manager Mike Sopinski said the results sent a clear message the community wanted roadside drug testing to detect the hidden danger of drugs on the road.

"It's almost a community demand for some sort of action, a demand for random drug testing," Mr Sopinski said.

He said the lack of a simple detection method contributed to the alarming statistics.

"When people have a drink they realise that they may be randomly breath tested yet the perception out there is if you have drugs, whether that be a puff of a joint or a line of cocaine, you'll be alright if you handle it in front of the cops," Mr Sopinski said.

Travel Safe Committee chair Jim Pearce said the committee handed down the report in 1999 but had since heard little response.

"One of the key recommendations that was given was to establish a working group to explore the issue of drug driving in Queensland to look at the current policies and what could be done to assist police in doing their work," Mr Pearce said.

He said he suspected the group was monitoring the actions and trials of other states, including roadside testing of saliva in Tasmania, NSW's aim to test truck drivers and a drugtesting trial in Victoria, to formulate ways of tackling the problem.

Coolangatta Police Duty Sergeant Steve Quinn said if police suspected a driver was under the influence of illegal drugs, they were required to submit to a blood test.

"It is a criminal offence not to undertake a blood test," Sgt Quinn said.

However, Mr Sopinski said current measures could be complex and take hours to determine whether a person was dazed by drugs.

"We definitely need roadside testing - saliva testing would instantly recognise if a driver has partaken in drugs," he said. "There is no widespread perception of detection so people indulge and it is a recipe for a tragedy."



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