The West

New war on drug drivers

Police will embark on a new era in drug-driving detection with the number of drug-testing machines to quadruple this year when 20 more modern machines arrive.

The Draeger Drug Test 5000 machines will replace the five Cozart Drug Detection System testers that have been used since drug-driving tests were introduced in 2007.

Similarly, thousands of updated mouth swab kits will replace the older Securetec Drugwipes, with result times cut from 5-8 minutes to 3-5 minutes.

The tests pick up traces of MDMA (ecstasy), methamphetamine and THC (cannabis).

Positive roadside results are sent to the ChemCentre for confirmation before charges are laid. The Cozart machines are used aboard breath and drug buses but there are plans to use some of the Draeger machines in regional WA.

Over the past four years, 25,581 road users have been tested for drug-driving, with 2064 positive results. One out of every 14 people tested in 2012 and last year tested positive to having one of the three drugs in their system.

Acting Supt Ian Clarke said the actions of the drivers who tested positive put all road users at risk.

"The prevalence of drugs in fatal crashes is about 11 per cent and everything we do is quite focused towards minimising that," he said.

Acting Supt Clarke said the new technology meant drivers under the influence of illicit drugs faced a much higher risk of being detected.

"The reality is we are in an environment where a large number of road users still have difficulty driving a car when they are not under the influence of substances and are not being distracted by mobile phones," he said.

"When those drivers use alcohol and or drugs it puts them and every other road user at risk."

Running red lights and using mobile phones while driving will attract double demerit points this Easter and Anzac Day long weekends.

Previously, only speeding, drink and drug-driving and failing to wear seatbelts got double demerits.

The West Australian

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