Drug drivers will be the target of a new police pilot program to be rolled out in the Limestone Coast region. Limestone Coast Local Service Area officers will undergo training in a bid to increase the number of police undertaking random drug testing throughout the region.
LSA Officer in Charge Superintendent Phil Hoff said SAPOL was looking at “enhancing our capability this year in relation to increased drug driver training”. “We will be training more officers to undertake drug driving testing,” he said.
“We are going to be one of the pilot areas in SA to see what sort of return we can get with greater capacity.” Supt Hoff said drug driver testing was more logistically challenging because positive results needed to be analysed by scientists.
“It’s still a random approach but we are more selective about those,” he said. “We do return a higher strike rate. “For the amount of drug driver testing we do we have a higher rate of return than we do in the breath analysis generally.”
Supt Hoff said drug driving was not more prevalent in the region compared with other areas, but it was “a problem everywhere”. “I guess the indicator for us, what I’d really like to see is decreased numbers,” he said. “We will experience a spike, because we will test more people, but we will hopefully get more people to the support providers. “There will be a judicial implication but we want to see people get off this stuff.”
Supt Hoff said the pilot’s start date had not yet been released and in the meantime officers would continue to focus on drink and drug driving in the region. Police carried out random testing of drivers throughout the area on the weekend, with 500 drivers tested.
“We did a great number of tests over the weekend and there were a number of positive detections that were not overly high,” he said. “Anecdotally there was a vast number of people who had alcohol in their system but were not over the limit,” Supt Hoff said.
“We had three low range detections, but there were a number of people who registered alcohol on their breath, which had not reached the legal threshold and that’s just a reminder to people they need to be cognisant of the effects of drink driving.
“We are definitely looking at doing the same over the March long weekend and leading into Easter.” Supt Hoff said he was focussed on keeping the roads in the region safe and avoiding any lives lost in crashes.
“In this area and the Limestone Coast we were doing so well with no lives lost, we had that run in November and December which resulted in four lives lost,” he said. “It would seem the message is not getting through, we do detect drug and drink drivers most days of the week.
“That’s really disappointing, we do still have serious accidents, I know lives lost retains the focus, but we do have more than our fair share of serious accidents. “It’s a problem which is related to choices and people are making bad choices, it’s not just themselves they are endangering it’s other people and other road users.
“It’s incredibly selfish and incredibly irresponsible and if people do have a substance problem they need to get professional help.”