6PR Mornings

Interview

DCI043/2017

08 May 2017

Subjects: Drug driving and mobile phone research announcement.

Gareth Parker: His name is Darren Chester, he is the Federal Minister for Infrastructure and for Transport, and he joins me on the line.

Darren, good morning to you.

Darren Chester: Good morning, Gareth.

Gareth Parker: So it is National Road Safety week, we are having the conversation here in Western Australia with our State Road Safety Commissioner, but this is an issue that is on the mind obviously of the Federal Government too. What are you announcing today?

Darren Chester: Well Gareth you are right, and I am very pleased to hear that you are having that town forum and talking about road safety more generally. In Western Australia obviously last year was a bad year for us, particularly in our regional roads, and we need to be working together at State and Federal levels with our police and road safety commissioners and individuals to make sure we are all taking responsibility for our safety on the roads. Now what we have announced today is some additional research funding to have a good look at this issue of illicit drug use and how widespread it is, but also mobile phone distraction—getting a better handle on exactly how many people are using their mobile phones while driving, is it resulting in crashes, and what can we do in terms of having the regulatory enforcement practices in place to try and stem the tide of road trauma.

Gareth Parker: What will the results of that research do, Minister? How useful is it to sort of identify and find out the prevalence of drug driving?

Darren Chester: Well I think it is important for a number of perspectives. I think he was just referring to the fact that we are seeing young drivers in particular seem to be very obeying of the drink driving laws. They have the message on that. But we have seen in several jurisdictions where the rate of illicit drug use resulting in serious injuries and indeed many times death, have increased in recent years. We need to get a handle on can we do more of these tests more cheaply, can we bring in better education campaigns to explain to people and separate that behavior. If they are going to be taking drugs, separate that behavior from driving their vehicles. Now that is a different approach I guess because the police obviously want to enforce illicit drug use as being obviously against the law, but at the very least we need to make sure people are not getting behind the wheel after they have been taking those drugs because its killing them, their passengers, and other innocent road users. So these are all big questions for us to work our way through, but I am being very pleased the way the state transport ministers and Police Commissioners have been working with my office on developing a real national approach to reducing road trauma. We are all on the same side, we are all looking for answers, and it is a challenge for us but it is good to see us all working in the same direction.

Gareth Parker: Well, Minister, we appreciate your time on the program today and sharing the news with us of those two pieces of research, which will inform the response right around the country, as we try and reduce the impact of both drug driving and mobile phone use on our roads.

Darren Chester: Absolutely Gareth, and once we get that information it will be made public, and it will inform our decisions with our state counterparts so that we can continue to work together with a national approach to reduce a number of deaths and serious injuries on our roads.

Gareth Parker: That is Darren Chester, he is the Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport.