Last month, the NSW Government announced it will be strengthening laws to boost roadside drug testing following the death of 392 people throughout 2017, with 42 deaths a result of drug affected driving alone.
These measures will double the number of roadside tests to 200,000 a year by 2020, increasing maximum penalties for drug drivers and provide greater restrictions on those who drive after using prescription drugs that may still cause impairment.
Data also showed that drug-affected drivers were a major contributing factor in 231 fatal crashes from 2012 to 2015 and this was reflected in the road toll of 2017, along with other major factors such as drink-driving, speeding and fatigue.
“Many families and friends have been left with the heartache of losing loved ones while thousands will now live with lifelong injuries from crashes,” NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said.
Along with tougher initiatives on drug affected drivers, the NSW Government will be providing more education initiatives and police operations, such as Operation Safe Return which took place over the Australia Day weekend, to target specific risk areas.
“This is why we talk about speeding, being distracted, driving when tired, alcohol and drug driving and not wearing seatbelts,” NSW Police Force Deputy Commissioner Catherine Burn said.
Police were ultimately disappointed in the results of Operation Safe Return with 303 major crashes reported, resulting in 91 injured and three dead.
“It’s quite simple, people are dying on our roads because of poor decisions made by drivers and riders,” Commander of the State’s Traffic and Highway Patrol, Assistant Commissioner Michael Corboy said.
“If people don’t stop making stupid decisions on our roads, the unfortunate reality is that many more people will die this year.”
Assistant Commissioner Corboy has joined Raods, Maritime and Freight Minister Melinda Pavey in insisting that everyone make road safety their New Year’s resolution for 2018.
“This year, I want everyone behind the wheel […] to think about what they are doing and take responsibility for their actions,” Mr Corboy said.
“Road safety is a shared responsibility so if you see unsafe behaviour – and you can prevent it – please do something about it!” Ms Pavey said.