Ice epidemic increases road risks

Methamphetamine (ice) is becoming an increasingly significant problem on South Australian roads, with almost five times the number of drivers/riders testing positive to the illegal substance since 2010.

2,903 driver/riders tested positive to methamphetamine in 2016, compared to 533 in 2010, an alarming increase of 445%, cementing ice as the most commonly detected drug.

The Motor Accident Commission’s Community Engagement Manager, Matt Hanton said drug driving and in particular the concerning increase in the use of methamphetamine on our roads, continues to be a priority for the MAC.

‘Methamphetamine at any concentration can cause driver behaviours that are unsafe, and put lives at risk on the roads’, said Mr Hanton.

MAC’s latest drug driving campaign aims to educate road users on the effects of illegal drugs in impairing judgement. It also aims to create awareness around how long drugs remain in a person’s system, with ice able to be detected up to 24 hours after consumption.

‘Our research showed a common misconception about how long drugs can impair a person’s ability to drive, which is leading drivers to make the wrong choice.

‘MAC’s 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.

‘Roadside drug driving tests can detect the impairing substance in methamphetamine for at least 24 hours.

‘Not only are we giving people factual information, we’re clearly telling them if they do drug drive, they will get caught’, said Mr Hanton.

The State Government yesterday announced a South Australian Ice Taskforce to respond to the growing use of ice in SA. Increasing the number of roadside drug driver testings undertaken is one of the responses to be considered by the Taskforce.

Road Safety Minister Pete Malinauskas said the growth of ice use is one of the most concerning issues facing our society and it is affecting community safety across the system, including on our roads.

‘The Government is committed to addressing this epidemic through the newly established Taskforce, with the introduction of tough new drug driver penalties to complement the work being done’, said Mr Malinauskas.

Leader of the SA Ice Taskforce, Minister Malinauskas, will be presenting legislation to Parliament that once implemented would see tougher penalties for drug drivers, including an automatic loss of licence for first time drug driving offenders and increased penalties for drug and high level drink drivers caught with a child in the car.

Background

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

Preliminary results show 28% of drivers/riders killed in fatal crashes between July 2015 to June 2016 tested positive for the presence of cannabis, methamphetamine or ecstasy or a combination of these drugs.

This compares to 24% in 2015 and a 5 year average of 22%. Positive alcohol detection rates are around 1% while the drug drive detection rate has increased to approximately 11%.