POLICE say they are “gravely concerned” with the amount of drug drivers across rural NSW with recent random drug testing results revealing an alarming number of motorists testing positive, far outweighing those caught driving while drunk.
Catherine Burn, Deputy Commissioner of Specialist Operations, said random breath testing for alcohol across the state had an arrest rate of one for every 288 tests.
While the number of arrests for positive drug testing in rural NSW was one-in-six, a shocking revelation that Deputy Commissioner Burn said should concern not only drivers and passengers, but their families and other road users.
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“We’re seeing an increase in the number of people returning positive random drug testing results; in 2013, 1-in-47 tests were positive, compared to 1-in-25 last year.”
Deputy Commissioner Burn said the results of the random drug tests conducted so far this year were of “grave concern”, with forty-six per cent testing positive to methylamphetamine (ICE), 72 per cent testing positive to cannabis, and five per cent to MDMA (Ecstasy).
During the latest random drug testing operations across rural NSW, 1900 drivers were tested, 314 of which returned positive readings.
Out of those caught, 152 of them were nabbed in Newcastle, 60 in Goulburn, 45 in Pt Macquarie, 30 in Kempsey, 23 in Richmond, 11 in Orange, and 10 in Narrabri and Queanbeyan.
Statewide, officers have so far drug tested 31,617 drivers, 2,452 of which have tested positive – a rate of 1:13.
Assistant Commissioner Hartley, Commander of the Traffic and Highway Patrol Command, said drug affected drivers needed to be reminded of the dangers.
“Combining alcohol and opiates multiplies the depressant effects of both drugs, even if only small quantities are used. You will feel drowsy, uncoordinated and be more at risk of falling asleep at the wheel,” Assistant Commissioner Hartley said.
“With an expected 55,000 tests to be completed this year, which will increase in the years ahead, now is the time for those drivers to get help, as opposed to putting others at risk on our roads,” Assistant Commissioner Hartley said