Pubdate: Fri, 25 Dec 2015
Source: Townsville Bulletin, The (Australia)
Contact:  2015 The North Queensland Newspaper Company Pty Ltd
Author: Miles Godfrey
Page: 24


THE ice epidemic has emerged as a key driver of this year's horror 
New South Wales road toll, which has shot back up to the highest 
level since 2013.

Almost 50 per cent of motorists who failed roadside drug tests in 
2015 took ice, while 72 per cent took cannabis, 6 per cent took 
ecstasy - and a whopping 97 per cent had a combination of drugs in 
their system.

After years of falling crash rates, including a record low in 2014, 
this year's road toll has spiked 12 per cent with 333 deaths so far 
in 2015, up from 298 last year. Back in the 1970s around 1300 people 
died each year on NSW roads.

Police Highway Patrol operations manager Phil Brooks slammed idiot 
motorists who take illicit substances and drive - often making them 
hallucinate or fall asleep, with fatal consequences.

"The key issue is a lack of personal responsibility on the part of 
road users and a reflection of that is in the drug testing 
statistics," said Chief Inspector Brooks. Jeremy Paul Price was 
jailed for a minimum of four years in June after he killed an elderly 
couple and maimed his two-year-old son after taking ice and crashing.

Driving too fast was a factor in 40 per of NSW's fatal accidents. 
There has also been a big rise in pedestrian deaths, including a 
number of deaths between midnight and 6 am involving intoxication.

One in seven of the 53,000 roadside drug tests came back positive in 
2015 - compared with just one in every 305 of the six tests.

Drug tests are being tripled this Christmas and the NRMA has called 
for drug-driving and speeding to become as socially unacceptable as 

Roads Minister Duncan Gay said the rise in the road toll was "tragic" 
but also heaped blame on poorly behaving motorists. "We're doing our 
bit, now it is time for all of our road users to do the same - there 
is an element of personal responsibility involved in road safety and 
everyone must do their part," Mr Gay said.

The number of crashes is expected to continue climbing this festive 
season, despite a massive crackdown by police including the longest- 
ever holiday road blitz and double demerits applying to mobile phone 
use for the first time.

Centre for Road Safety boss Bernard Carlon said more money was being 
invested to try to reduce the road toll.

He expects the road toll to climb this Christmas before falling in 2016.

"We can design a system where we have zero deaths," he said.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom