Important changes to road rules you need to know
A major change to drug-driving rules will ensure all drugs will be automatically covered – including those who have taken prescription medication and drugs not even invented yet.
The crackdown is part of a campaign to focus on not just what a motorist takes but how it affects their driving, so they can be charged with driving under the influence.
An awareness campaign will be launched to highlight the risk of driving while on medication including cold and flu tablets, painkillers containing codeine and other prescription drugs that can cause an impairment such as drowsiness.
GPs and pharmacists will also be given training to identify those whose driving may be affected, making them a risk on the roads.
“This is about reminding people that drugs can affect people differently and to have a little bit of common sense and be aware of the impact it might be having on you,” Roads Minister Melinda Pavey told 9NEWS.
The government launched a study into the road rules and the impact of prescription medications in the wake of the tragic accident that killed actor Jessica Falkholt, her sister and parents on Boxing Day last year.
The driver in that case was driving home from a methadone clinic.
Currently, mobile drug testing can identify drivers who have taken cannabis and drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamines, but if police suspect they’re under the influence of another substance, they can be arrested and taken for a blood test to prove they’re driving under the influence.
Mobile Drug Testing is still being ramped up.
With 112,000 tests conducted last year, a staggering one in 12 was found to be positive.
Chief Inspector Phil Brooks from NSW Police Traffic and Highway patrol has warned that there will be 200,000 tests by the year 2020.
“So police right throughout NSW – they’ve all been trained. They’ve got significant resources. They can do a mobile drug test roadside at any time,” he told 9NEWS.
The crackdown also extends to mobile phone use. From September, if you’re caught using your phone, the number of demerit points applied jumps from four to five – meaning 10 of your 13 demerit points would be wiped out during a double demerit period.
It is clear drivers are not getting the message, says Chief Inspector Brooks.
“Unfortunately, it’s become second nature for many road users to be on their mobile phones,” he said.
“All too often, police will turn up to a crash that’s nose to tail and that will be courtesy of someone using their mobile phone. Sadly, we have seen instances where we believe mobile phone use has led to a serious injury or a fatal crash on our roads.”