Friday, 22 October 2010

The Propaganda Files - Drug Driving

Anti-drug zealots are rubbing their hands together with glee as drivers are dying on the roads. Their message is that drug-driving causes more deaths than drink-driving and they have statistics to prove it. For a group that usually overlooks facts and statistics, it’s surprising they take these new findings on board with such excitement. But when you actually look closer at their proof, it becomes clear they are comparing oranges and apples.

Organisation: General
Campaign: Drug-driving exceeds drink-driving
When: 1992 -
Propaganda: 8/10
Laugh Out Loud Rating: 5/10

Let’s clear this up … no one should drive whilst under the influence of drugs. Any impairment to your driving skills is dangerous. It’s that simple. 

So, how do we go about implementing laws for those who drive while affected by drugs. With alcohol, we simply test the BAC or blood-alcohol concentration. A driver’s co-ordination deteriorates according to the amount of alcohol in their system and most people have a similar threshold. Over a period of time, the alcohol dissipates and your driving skills start to return to normal.  Of course there are exceptions but overall the limits in place work for the masses. Is this the same for other drugs? The obvious problem is that not all drugs are the same as alcohol. Some drugs can linger in your system for months while others can disappear quite quickly. Some drugs affect your driving ability more than others. Trying to base drug-driving tests on the alcohol model is flawed and any 15 year old would see the inherent differences. 

So why does this logic get lost on some people?

It might make sense to the public but that’s because of the opportunistic nature of politicians and anti-drug zealots. If they see a chance to demonise drugs, they will take it, regardless of the truth. The biggest furphy is that simply detecting drugs in someone’s system does not mean they are impaired. This is testing for the presence of drugs not whether you have sufficient amounts to impair your driving. 

The very bad news is that the detection rate of drug driving in South Australia is twice that of drink driving. Mixing drugs and driving is fatal and of course that's borne out by the fact that 20 per cent of the people who were driving cars and died on our roads last year ... had drugs in their blood.'

Another major problem is that alcohol remains in your system for a certain known time while other drugs have their own unique process. For example, cannabis can linger in your blood for months although any effect on your driving has long gone. Arresting someone for having cannabis in their blood from a joint they smoked several weeks prior just does’t makes sense when it no longer impairs your driving. And the perception that all drugs are the same doesn’t help either.

I think there is a perception out there that it may be OK to take an illicit substance and drive. That the perception is that it does not affect your driving but, in my opinion, it probably affects your driving more than alcohol. And they have to remember, they can take a drug one day and still have that in their system several days or even weeks later.

Interestingly, not much attention is paid to prescription drugs. Why would they overlook a tranquilliser like rohypnol? Or strong opiates like morphine, oxycondone, methadone, hydromorphone and hydrocodone? What about benzodiazepines like oxazepam, diazepam, nitrazepam, temazepam and Xanax?

With the mentioned inconsistencies and the fact that those caught with alcohol levels less than 0.05 are not part of the statistics, there is plenty of room for misreporting and exaggeration. It will be interesting to see who misuses these inconsistencies to further their career or push an agenda.

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Anonymous said...

Ha the irony.... (true story) i got stopped by a cop yesterday for some minor infraction... and got " chatting as ya do to release the nervous energy of being around someone ,about whom you have no idea of their mental "are they a psycho hiding behind a uniform with the "institution Made me do it"alibi... does he perform his rape and sodomy by proxy ??? Wouldnt he be better joining some weekend bondage club where he can whip and be whipped etcetc ( for those strange officers who actually are in need of being found before they cause too much carnage)
and i got asking the officer ( who credit where credits due ,turned out to be pretty decent )about "drug driving" probably as the theme was residual from me visiting this very site in the morning and i asked whether they "test" for prescription pharmaceuticals as logically if they didnt ,the whole driving whilst affected thing becomes void n null...lets just say...i'd feel safer driving after some pot or a line of speed than a few valium ( yet the authorities obviously arent targetting Mrs Depressed housewife driving around in her convertable mercedes high on whatever her doctors given her...
Nope, this discrimination is reserved for young peoples and because it must be hard for those closer to death than birth to have to watch those opposite "HAVING FUN"...( so lets destroy their lives with a criminal record..tha'll teach 'em!!!!)
Anyway..excuse the tangent...
The officer upon hearing my logic felt what i reckon was a sense of embaressment also... this mustve been a decent for others like him to get together and point out certain hypocracies to the lawmakers/cashrakers

Terry Wright said...

Thanks for your insight, Anon.


I just read on the RTA website that it is an offense to drive with any amount of illegal drug in your blood and the penalties have a minimum and no maximum. Fuck!
Also, if you are involved in a collision where someone is injured you have to submit to a mandatory blood drug test.
Now as far as I know, a positive test means, no insurance cover, higher premiums, no license for whatever time they see fit and a huge fine, not to mention penalties pertaining to the injuring of another person. In the case of cannabis, you may have had that joint a month ago and be guilty of nothing more than smoking pot. It is impossible to still be impaired for this long. Do they ever think these laws through before they pass them?
Imagine being convicted of manslaughter even though you may actually have been in the right, (not caused the accident) but tested positive to cannabis you smoked a week ago?