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It’s Time – to stop drug driving

CONNECT - Message from the Chief Executive

16 February 2016

The Motor Accident Commission’s (MAC) latest road safety campaign, It’s Time – to stop drug driving, targets drug drivers with a hard hitting message about the dangers of driving while impaired.

The new campaign sends a strong message to those tempted to get behind the wheel while affected by drugs.

The frequency of fatal crashes where drivers and riders are testing positive to illegal drugs is on the rise, with about 24 per cent of those killed in road crashes over the last two years returning a positive test.

Drug driver detection rates are also on the increase with positive results being returned in about 9 per cent of tests compared with 2.5 per cent in 2008.

Contributing to the increased detections is continuous improvement in the testing regime by police and more intelligence based, targeted testing.

Motor Accident Commission General Manager Road Safety Michael Cornish said the new campaign tackles the issue of illegal drug use from the perspective of how long a user is likely to be impaired.

"MAC’s research revealed a common misconception regarding how long certain drugs are likely to impair a person’s ability to drive, which is leading drivers to make the wrong choice," Mr Cornish said.

"Our intention is to arm road users with the facts, and actively encourage them to wait until they are no longer affected before getting behind the wheel.

"The campaign sends a clear message - roadside drug driving tests can detect the impairing substance in methamphetamine for at least 24 hours and marijuana for at least 5 hours - maybe longer depending on the person.

"While we’re giving people factual information, we’re also very clearly telling them if they do drive with illegal drugs in their system, they can expect to get caught. If in doubt, just don’t drive."

Statistics between 2010 to 2014 show:

  • Of the 66 drivers and riders killed that tested positive to drugs, 85 per cent were male.
  • The 30-39 year old age group represents the largest percentage of the population of driver and riders killed that tested positive for drugs (33 per cent), followed by the 40-49 year old age group (24 per cent).
  • 32 per cent of the drivers and riders killed that tested positive for drugs crashed in the postcode that they resided in, of these 76 per cent lived rurally.
  • Fatal crashes are more likely to involve hitting a fixed object such as a tree, stobie pole or other property.

Crashes involving hitting a fixed object are typical of other impairment related crashes such as fatigue and alcohol.

"Similar to our success in influencing attitudes and behaviour towards drink driving, this new campaign is MAC’s next step in tackling the issue of drug driving on our roads," Mr Cornish said.

"The statewide campaign will air on television and radio, have a strong digital presence and be seen in pubs and clubs across the State as well as feature on regional billboards during February and March."

Drug driving legislation and road side saliva testing has been in place in South Australia since 2006.

Road side saliva testing is conducted for the impairing influence of three commonly used illegal drugs:

  • THC (tetra hydro cannabinol) – the active ingredient in marijuana.
  • Methylamphetamine – speed, ice or crystal meth.
  • MDMA – the active ingredient in ecstasy.