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May 16, 2021

Byron Bay tops the list of drink-driving hotspots

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Breathalyzer. (File photo)
Breathalyzer. (File photo)

Byron Bay has topped a list of the state’s worst drink-driving hotspots, with Ballina coming in seventh, and Tweed Heads at number 10.

And while the rankings are not good news for drivers caught in those areas, NSW Police say they are encouraged by statistics that show drink-driving rates are declining.

However, with 25,000 people still being caught for either drink driving or drug driving last financial year, police said there was still problems across the state.

End of financial year statistics show that there has been a decrease of 1406 drivers charged with drug-driving, and a decrease of 1562 charged with drink-driving.

In Byron Bay, 205 drivers were charged with drink driving,  followed by Coffs Harbour (176), Dubbo (155), Griffith (144), Port Macquarie (144), Goulburn (99),  Ballina (85), Blacktown (83), Orange (81), and Tweed Heads (79).

Surprisingly, not one far north coast centre featured in the top 10 list of drivers charged with drug-driving, despite north coast drivers being five times more likely to be charged with the offence, according to statistics released by the Bureau of Crime Statistics on May 20, 2017.

According to the police statistics released today, the ten worst suburbs across the state for drug-driving were: Armidale (174), Port Macquarie(152), Goulburn (145), Liverpool (113), Nowra (107), Taree (104), Mudgee (87), South Tamworth ((79), Young (77) and Griffith (75).

Assistant Commissioner Michael Corboy of the state’s Traffic and Highway Patrol Command said the statistics indicated some road users are getting the message, however, there are still too many who drink or take drugs and drive.

‘A decline in drink and drug-driving, shows that the message is starting to get across, and that the community will not tolerate those who put themselves and others at risk,’ he said.

‘However, it is still alarming to see that there were more than 17,000 drink-drivers, and more than 8,000 drug-drivers on our roads in the last financial year.

‘Every one of those drivers or riders have shown a complete lack of regard for not only their own life, but the lives of all others using the road.

‘Evidence is clear that drink and drug-drivers are costing lives on NSW roads.

‘We will not stop, and we make no apologies for catching and prosecuting anyone who thinks it’s okay to drink or take drugs and drive.’




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  1. How embarrassing than an Assistant Commissioner of the state’s Traffic and Highway Patrol Command is repeating the same old reefer madness lie.
    He claims that ‘Evidence is clear that drug-drivers are costing lives on NSW roads’, this is completely false for cannabis.
    Not only has the NSW government not done any research and therefore has no evidence but high quality evidence from impeccable sources shows that cannibas does not impair driving.
    As was reported in The Echo months ago, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (in the most comprehensive research undertaken using data from 10,000 drivers) found that cannabis consumption does not increase accident risk or fatalities.
    In fact, research presented in June this year by the American Journal of Public Health comparing motor vehicle crash fatality rates for Washington and Colorado where recreational marijuana is legal with eight states where it isn’t, found no statistical difference.
    As long as the NSW Police continue to lie to the public, the public has every right to resist their deceitful behaviour.
    Apparently apple cider vinegar masks the detection of THC drug swipes and the Facebook page “nth coast RDT locations” (https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=nth%20coast%20rdt%20locations) gives up to the minute info on where the NSW Police are conducting their immoral and dishonest persecution of the sick and elderly who rely on medical cannabis for pain relief and disease management.
    The Assistant Commissioner of the state’s Traffic and Highway Patrol Command needs to do his own research and stop subjecting his officers and the public to this disgraceful farce.

    • While the academic debate around the extent and nature of the impact of cannabis on driving is less unequivocal than that around for alcohol, there are numerous studies that show impairment does occur and a correlation with accidents. For example an Australian literature review by Kane et al found: ” Studies now show that cannabis has a significant impairing effect on driving when used alone and that this effect is exaggerated when combined with alcohol.” Other studies found marked increased presence of THC in crash drivers in Australia, where the situation is different from the US where the promotion and policing of the alcohol limit – most commonly there .08 – is less effective leading to a lesser of two evils dynamic in places like Colorado (I do not know why people want to example a country that has a higher road toll than ours). The debates are interesting for epidemiologists, road safety managers and governments to follow , but I see no reason to change the current regimen as long as as it appears there is impairment of stoned drivers. Most people would not travel with an airline that allowed its pilots to fly stoned; I do not want to drive or cycle on roads with cars driven by stoned drivers. For those of us who want to use the roads without drug impaired drivers we should support the police in their work testing for alcohol and THC, and support them in putting out very simple messages which are more effective in changing behaviour.

  2. “‘We will not stop, and we make no apologies for catching and prosecuting anyone who thinks it’s okay to drink or take drugs and drive.’”

    If police is so keen on reducing accidents caused by drug and drink driving, how come they CHOOSE NOT to test for all commonly used drugs like cocaine or prescription drugs (even though tests are readily available!), which are known to have played a role in traffic accidents in the past???
    I would also like to suggest that emotional stress and fatigue can make some people more unsuitable for driving then small traces of drugs or alcohol detected in their system a day or more after their consumption.
    Detecting small traces of drugs in a drivers system does not automatically imply driver impairment.


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