16 July 2020

Member for Northern Victoria, Tania Maxwell MP has called for increased drug testing on roads and driver education for young people as part of her submission to the Victorian Inquiry into the Increase in Victoria’s Road Toll.

The Transport Accident Commission reports that in the last 5 years approximately 41% of all drivers and motorcyclists killed who were tested, had drugs in their system and 25% of Victorians who use recreational drugs admit to driving under the influence.  A driver with methylamphetamine in their system is up to 200 times more likely to have a collision.

While Victoria Police had significantly increased its focus on drug testing drivers, this still represents only five percent of the equivalent target number for testing drivers under the influence of alcohol.  Ms Maxwell said there should be immediate action to expand the rate of random drug testing of drivers on Victorian roads, including the latest drug driving testing equipment and technology.

Ms Maxwell said in practice, not all police are trained to conduct testing and as a result, if a general duties officer suspects drug use, they had to relay the case to Highway Patrol and wait for them to attend a scene.  Highway Patrol must then physically see the person driving the motor vehicle before they are able to ask them to submit to a drug test.

In 2019, 26 of the 148 lives lost on Victoria’s roads were aged between 16-25 years, representing 18% of the total road toll. The Victorian Labor Party made an election promise in 2014 to introduce the ‘Road Safety Starts Early’ program for all Year 10 students to undertake defensive driver training.

Ms Maxwell said such a program should incorporate a special focus on identifying attitudes to risk and shaping behaviour towards low-risk driving as well as defensive driving skills.

Ms Maxwell said there could also be scope within this program to devote specific attention to the danger of mobile phone use in vehicles, shaping behaviours before young drivers obtain their licence and she called on the Government to announce when the program would be funded and rolled out as promised.

Quotes attributable to Tania Maxwell MP:

 “If Victoria Police trained and equipped all members to conduct random drug tests, the capacity to get drug affected drivers off our roads would increase exponentially. Consideration for the length of time illicit drugs remain in a person’s system need to be considered in the length of time they are not permitted to drive.”

“Drugs are surpassing alcohol as a risk factor on Victoria’s roads and something we need to ramp up in order to improve public safety and provide diversion opportunities for drug affected drivers.”