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'We need drug-drive testing'

May 21, 2006

(Australia) ROADSIDE drug-drive testing should be introduced in the Territory, it was claimed yesterday.

The call was made after a survey revealed one in five Territory drivers had admitted to driving under the influence of popular drugs like ecstasy and cannabis.

Many of those surveyed also said they had driven a car within an hour of taking drugs.

The survey was carried out by car and home insurer AAMI. Victoria is the only state or territory in the country that conducts the roadside tests.

Independent MLA Gerry Wood said the Territory Government should investigate how the testing operated in Victoria and introduce it in the NT.

"The Territory should definitely have it," Mr Wood said. "Anyone who is driving in an unfit state due to drugs shouldn't be on the road.

"Marijuana use is a major concern in the NT and those people using it shouldn't be behind a wheel."

A spokesman for NT Police Minister Paul Henderson said the Government was not considering implementing random drug tests on drivers.

But Mr Wood said if the Government was not introducing it because of financial reasons, those reasons should be set aside for the safety of all road users.

Nearly 20 per cent of people interviewed revealed that at some time they had driven while under the influence of illicit drugs.

And another survey, carried out by the Drug and Alcohol Council of the NT, found ecstasy was becoming more popular with drug users because it was easier to get.

In Melbourne, the Victorian Government was recently forced to include the drug in road laws after a secret police test caught up to 300 motorists under the influence of ecstasy.

That government is also considering harsher penalties for drug-drivers, extra drug-testing buses and equipment to enable booze buses to also test for drugs.

Chief Minister Clare Martin set up a road safety taskforce in January to investigate incidents on NT roads.

The Federal Government survey revealed that in the NT users combine drugs with alcohol, that pharmaceutical drugs are becoming more popular and LSD and cocaine less popular.

It also found cannabis and ecstasy were the most common drugs taken.

The survey attracted recent criticism because it paid drug users $30 to take part in it.