Expand roadside drug-test training


September 9, 2021

Ms MAXWELL (Northern Victoria) (12:59): (1485) My adjournment is to the Minister for Police. The action I seek is for the government to confirm when all general duty police officers will be provided with the training and equipment to complete roadside drug testing.

The Monash University Accident Research Centre was contracted by the Transport Accident Commission to evaluate the roadside drug testing expansion program. Monash released the findings of this study in May, and the good news is that it found the TAC-funded increase in roadside drug tests was effective and highly beneficial, saving more than 33 fatal crashes and nearly 80 serious injury crashes per year. The report suggests that roadside drug tests could increase by up to 390 100 annually and in doing so could prevent 46 fatal crashes and 134 serious injury crashes per year. These are big numbers, both in terms of drug testing and the potential reduction in our road toll.

A report from the TAC found that over five years approximately 41 per cent of all drivers and motorcyclists killed who were tested had drugs in their system, so it stands to reason that with that level of drug detection associated with road deaths, testing and removing drug-affected drivers from our roads will improve safety for all road users.

Yarrawonga police are now accredited to perform oral fluid tests on drivers, after a six-month pilot. Other training across the state has focused on members of the highway patrol. There are practical implications if training for drug testing is not expanded to general duties officers. Basically, if they suspect someone is under the influence and wish to conduct a drug test, the general duties officer needs to wait for the highway patrol, but the highway patrol must see them driving. So this process is impractical and inefficient.

Given the very positive results of the Monash study and the key finding that increases in roadside drug tests are justified in terms of saving both lives and serious injury as well as on economic grounds, it is imperative that training be expanded. I look forward to the minister’s response.