Is training shortfall an excuse for drug drivers?

Drug drivers could be going undetected across the Clare Valley and wider Mid North region due to lack of police training.

That’s seriously concerning after the Mid North ranked in the top 10 regions across the state for drug detection between 2012 and 2016.

Earlier this week, the Northern Argus learned local police were not authorised to undertake roadside drug testing.

Instead, they have to wait for trained officers from Port Pirie to travel nearly 1.5 hours to the region.

If our region is ranking in the top 10 for drug driving detections, and our local officers have to wait for trained police from other regions to conduct drug tests, how many other drivers under the influence are managing to fly under the radar?

When the Argus questioned SA Police on the matter, a spokesperson likened the scenario to metropolitan Adelaide, where Henley Beach officers have to wait for trained personnel from Ottoway – the two suburbs are 12 kilometres apart.

That’s hardly a realistic comparison now, is it?

Over a series of phone calls and emails from our journalists, we repeatedly asked SA Police why regional officers were not authorised or trained to undertake these tests.

We’re still waiting for answers.

The Motor Accident Commission said statistics showed that fatal drug drive crashes were more likely to involve men and be on regional roads.

It should be a given that local law enforcement has the capacity to test for any substance which may affect a driver’s ability.

As parliament debates a Drink and Drug Driving Bill which will give all police officers authorisation to conduct roadside drug testing, we can only hope there are no drug driving fatalities in the region.