Drug driving and mobile phone use to be targeted in road safety research

Media Release

DC115/2017

08 May 2017

  • The Australian Government will look at improving roadside drug testing, and the impact of mobile phone use on our roads, through new research
  • The commitment will provide a stronger evidence base for better decision making to improve road safety
  • Drug testing and mobile phone use while driving have been identified by various jurisdictions as key road safety issues

The Turnbull-Joyce Government today announced drug testing and mobile phone distraction research, with the aim of improving understanding of the impact of these two factors on road safety.

Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester said the research would help governments find new ways to reduce the numbers of fatalities and serious injuries on the nation's roads.

“Nobody should die or be seriously injured on our roads, and I have serious concerns about drug use while driving, and people being distracted by their mobile phones,” Mr Chester said.

“I recently met with state and territory road safety ministers and senior police, and there was widespread agreement that both drug-driving and mobile phone use while driving were priority areas to address.

“Investing in road upgrades, installing speed signs, and improving vehicle safety help address the number of road deaths and injuries, but we need to continue building our understanding of road safety issues.”

Mr Chester said the research into roadside drug testing methods will consider options to enable more roadside testing, at a lower cost to governments.

“Investigating more cost-effective options for roadside drug testing is a high-priority for all jurisdictions, which will allow our police to conduct more frequent and visible testing,” Mr Chester said.

“This research will include reviewing current practices, looking at the most effective drug testing regimes and investigating the impediments to a more effective and efficient drug-testing regime.

“In today's world we are more connected to technology than ever before, and this is problematic for drivers and road safety.

“This research initiative will look at a range of issues related to the use of mobile phones while driving, including current regulatory and enforcement practices in Australia.

“I am keen to see how we can address this issue and remain safe on our roads.”

The research will include:

  • Reviewing data on the contribution of mobile phone and device distraction to fatal and serious injury crashes in Australia;
  • Looking at current approaches to addressing the risk of mobile phone and device use while driving;
  • Looking at current regulatory and enforcement practices in Australia; and
  • Considering approaches to help road users to reduce the risk of mobile phone use.

For more information on the Australian Government's work toward improving road safety visit: www.roadsafety.gov.au