THERE is now more ways for Queensland Police to detect dangerous drivers and keep them off the state’s roads.
The highly successful roadside drug testing program has been expanded with cocaine added to the list of narcotics that can be detected.
Random roadside screening has been used in Queensland for more than 15 years, with police conducting approximately 50,000 random tests every year.
Shockingly, 1 in 4 motorists tested will return a positive result for illicit drugs.
Previous testing kits have been able to detect the presence of methylamphetamine, MDMA (ecstasy) and THC (the active ingredient in cannabis) from a sample of saliva.
The addition of cocaine to the program is in response to the increasing number of drivers caught with cocaine in their system over the last five years and is part of sweeping drug driving reforms committed to in the Queensland Road Safety Action Plan.
The state has a zero-tolerance approach to drug driving and there are tough penalties for offenders.
Drivers who test positive for cocaine, cannabis, speed, ice, or ecstasy will have their licence disqualified, face fines of up to $2,167, and repeater offenders could receive jail time.
Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said it was shocking to think that a quarter of all random drug tests in our state return a positive result, it’s unacceptable.
“If you’re behind the wheel with drugs in your system, you’re not only a danger to yourself but to every other Queenslander and we make no apologies for coming down hard,” he said.
“Drug driving is one of the major contributing factors to fatal crashes and after the number of lives lost on our roads last year, this change to the roadside testing is very timely.
“Right now, TMR is working on a number of other road safety initiatives, and I will have more to say in the coming months.
“We are doing everything in our power to make sure all Queenslanders feel safe when they get behind the wheel”.
Qld Police Acting Assistant Commissioner Chris Stream said drivers under the influence of drugs or alcohol exhibit impaired judgement, memory, coordination and reaction time.
“Choosing to drive when affected by drugs is a decision that has a direct consequence on your life and those around you,” he said.
“It’s disappointing that there are people out there who think it’s acceptable to be out on our roads while they are under the influence of illicit drugs.
“The consequences of drug driving are very serious.
“In 2022, 61 people died as a result of crashes that involved a drug driver or rider, representing approximately 20.5 per cent of the lives lost on Queensland roads. This also represents a 30 per cent increase compared to the previous five-year average.
“Many more Queenslanders could have died or been seriously injured on our roads if police didn’t take action.
“Police will continue to be out there targeting these dangerous behaviours on our roads.
“We’ll continue to encourage motorists to make smarter decisions by taking them off the road.
“Expect to see police anywhere, anytime targeting drivers who are making the wrong choices.
“People must take individual responsibility for their safety, acknowledging that safe driving starts with the person behind the wheel.