Drug driving, more common than you think

Queensland Police conducted more than 1100 random roadside tests over the Easter long weekend across Queensland, and found almost 300 drivers returned a positive reading.

RACQ’s Lauren Ritchie said like alcohol, illicit drugs and some prescription medication can reduce a motorist’s ability to drive a car safely.

“Drugs can have a wide range of effects on the body, particularly your vision, coordination and decision making skills while under pressure,” Ms Ritchie said.

“Research suggests people who use certain drugs and drive have a similar crash risk to people driving with a blood alcohol content of between 0.10 and 0.15.

“It’s great to see campaigns like these reminding motorists that drug driving is never okay.”

“The introduction of roadside drug testing in Queensland and other jurisdictions has been an important development in road safety, especially considering drug driving is believed to be an increasing problem and with one 10-year evaluation of Australian road crashes estimating that one quarter of the drivers killed in road crashes tested positive to drugs other than alcohol.”

Listed below are some illegal drugs and their effect on driving (supplied by the TAC):

  • Cannabis and heroin – can slow down a person’s reaction time, distort perception of speed and distance and reduce concentration and coordination when driving
  • Methamphetamine – ecstasy, cocaine and ice – can lead to over-confidence, rash decision making and risk taking, and further, tiredness caused by an inability to sleep can affect a driver’s reflexes and concentration
  • Hallucinogens – affect hearing and sight as well as the perception of time, distance and movement, and they can make a person sense things that don’t exist
  • Multiple drug use – using a combination of drugs can lead to extreme and varied effects such as dramatically slowed reaction times, visual distortion, inability to judge speeds and distances, and risk taking.