Reviews of the effectiveness of random drug testing in Australia: The absence of crash-based evaluations
Keywords: Drink/Drug Driving
Submission Date: 2013
In Australia, roadside drug testing (RDT) is the chief means used to deter drug driving. Although it runs along similar lines to the more established method of random breath testing (RBT), it is considerably more expensive. Given the high cost in equipment and resources to undertake RDT, many jurisdictions have conducted reviews of the effectiveness and operations of their RDT program. Reviews have been undertaken of RDT and made publicly available in the states of Victoria, South Australia, New South Wales, Western Australia and Tasmania. Queensland are also planning to evaluate their program, although no report has yet been published. This paper examines the methodology of these reviews and discusses their findings to draw out policy implications for RDT in Australia. In terms of methodology, the RDT reviews have all focused on process evaluations and analysis of data pertaining to enforcement and detection. There have been no attempts to evaluate the effectiveness of RDT using a crash-based analysis. The reviews have been uniformly positive and supportive of the RDT programs introduced across Australia. Success has been claimed for RDT on the basis of increased detection of drug drivers following its introduction and some changes in the results of self-reported surveys about drug driving attitudes and behaviour. In most cases, a number of recommendations have nonetheless been made to improve the jurisdiction’s RDT program. The lack of evidence of reductions in drug driving crashes, however, prevents the specification of a best practice model of RDT.