Statistics provided to Greens MP David Shoebridge by NSW Police show that an expansion of the roadside drug testing program has resulted in a substantial reduction of positive results and may be changing the drug use patterns of drivers across the state.
Answers provided by the Police and Emergency Services Minister David Elliott MP to questions asked in Legislative Council Questions show that from 2015 to 2018 there was an 86% increase in the amount of saliva tests conducted by the NSW Police Force from 62,247 to 115,874 and increasing.
In that time period positive results have declined dramatically, with the number of positive results down from 8,247 in 2015 to just 9,067 in 2018 or just 7.82% of tests coming up positive for traces of drugs. Partial data provided by the Minister for 2019 show only 4.6% of tests conducted up to March have been found positive.
Greens MP and Justice spokesperson David Shoebridge said:
“Over the last 5 years there has been an unprecedented explosion in the number of roadside drugs tests, but there’s now conclusive evidence this is doing little to make our roads safer.
“There has been an 86% increase in roadside drug testing from 2015 to 2018, with 2019 set to follow that trend, yet positive results have collapsed.
“Police claim this program is about making the road safer but their data does not show this, and in fact shows that the more testing is expanded the less likely it is for them to find drivers with drugs present in their system.
“The stated goal from the NSW Police is 200,000 tests by the end of 2020 – on the current accuracy rates this mean 190,800 tests that turn up nothing.
“These tests do not include benzodiazepines for instance even though they are found present in around a third of drivers involved in a drug-related crash on our roads.
“The police need to start following the evidence about what makes our roads safer, test for all drugs that impair driving, at levels that reflect impairment.
“Simply continuing to increase the number of tests is invasive, costly and ultimately pointless” Mr Shoebridge said.