Superintendent Stuart Smith of the NSW Traffic and Highway Patrol claimed on the A Current Affair program of 15 February that the north region is ‘over represented in drug driving, impaired drug driving resulting in the injury or death of someone’ (3:07) and ‘we’ve had numerous dreadful fatalities at the hands of drugged drivers’ (7:00). Both these claims are false.
The NSW Police Force has had to stop charging people who tested positive for cannabis for’driving under the influence of cannabis’ because, unlike alcohol, they have never bothered to ascertain how much cannabis is required to ‘influence’ or ‘impair’ a driver’s ability to drive.
There is still no scientific way of testing ‘influence’ or ‘impairment’ of cannabis in NSW either by the road side or in the laboratory. To repeat, neither Superintendent Stuart Smith nor any NSW policeman or politician can tell whether a person is impaired by cannabis or not.
Likewise the NSW Centre for Road Safety does not list ‘driving under the influence of cannabis’ as a cause of fatalities. The most they can say is ‘Accidents or fatalities involving a driver or motorcycle rider with an illicit drug present’. Not ‘influenced or impaired by an illicit drug’, not ’caused by an illicit drug’ and certainly not ‘at the hands of a driver impaired by an illicit drug’.
But they do provide a list of contributing factors which are the cause of fatalities and they are ‘excessive or ‘inappropriate speed, fatigue, illegal alcohol (.05 and above) and restraint non usage (no seatbelt)’.
In fact, to make it absolutely clear that they are not claiming cannabis and/or other drugs are a ‘contributing factor’ they head the chart with ‘Contributing factors for fatalities 2010 to 2013 – compared to fatalities involving a driver with an illicit drug present’.
Now Superintendent Stuart Smith of the NSW Traffic and Highway Patrol may have access to research that quantifies the number of ‘people injured or killed in NSW by a driver under the influence of cannabis’, in which case he should send it to Echonetdaily and I will retract my comment.
Name and address withheld