Drug-driving on the rise

Police detected 80 offences in the Mitchell Shire and 71 offences in Whittlesea over the Easter long weekend.

By Eden Hynninen

Drivers under the influence of drugs was the number one concern for the Mitchell and Whittlesea regions during Victoria Police’s Operation Nexus.

The state-wide road safety focus over the Easter weekend targeted speed, fatigue, distraction, seatbelt non-compliance and impaired driving.

Police detected 80 offences in the Mitchell Shire and 71 in Whittlesea.

During the five-day operation, three people died in collisions across Victoria, who took the state’s road toll to 104 – about 40 above the tally from the same time last year.Greensborough Highway Patrol Sergeant Allan Tickner said many speeding offences in City of Whittlesea were due to tourist traffic travelling up to places like Yea.

He believes there was a rise in drug driving due to driver’s false perception on testing.

“We did find that drug detections were proportionally greater than alcohol,” Sgt Tickner said.

“Obviously people think they can run the gauntlet with drug testing and their chances are much less than alcohol but that’s not the case.”

Macedon Ranges showed low levels across the board, recording 32 speeding offences across the shire and police detected nine unregistered vehicles.

Mitchell Local Area Commander Peter Koger said the number of drug offences were an ongoing concern in the Mitchell Shire.

“It’s about one in eight that test positive during drug tests across the Mitchell Shire,” Inspector Koger said.

“People know about drink driving. but they think they can take illicit substances and drive the next day – cannabis and methamphetamine can stay in your system for up 72 hours.

“We’ve got a greater allocation this year for drug testing than previous year’s as we’re sponsored by the TAC – quite a significant amount which is great.”

Despite the drug concerns, he said that overall he was quite happy with figures over the Easter break in the Mitchell Shire.

“There were no fatal collisions. We had a number of events in Tallarook and Nagambie that were both well attended,” he said.