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The impact of new oral fluid drug driving detection methods in Queensland: Are motorists deterred?

Freeman, J, Davey, J (Peer reviewed)

Drink/Drug Driving

ACRS conference 2008

Police services in Queensland have commenced random roadside drug testing of drivers to both apprehend and deter possible offenders. The present study aimed to examine a sample of Queensland drivers' (N = 450) level of awareness of the new testing method as well as determine the impact of the countermeasure and other non-legal sanctions on intentions to drug drive.

Data was collected over a three month period using a snowball sampling approach which involved encouraging general motorists, in particular university students, to complete the survey.

The results indicated that participants were generally unaware of the new testing method and a similar proportion remained uncertain regarding the effectiveness of drug testing drivers. Nevertheless, an examination of the factors associated with intentions to drug drive again in the future revealed that perceptions of apprehension certainty was a significant predictor, as those who reported a lower certainty of apprehension were more likely to report intending to offend. Additionally, self-reported recent drug driving activity was also identified as a significant predictor, which indicates that past behaviour is a good predictor of future behaviour in the current context. In contrast, informal sanctions such as peer loss, physical injury, or internal loss (e.g., shame) were not found to be predictors of drug driving, although may still enact some deterrent effect.

The findings of the study confirm the popular deterrence-based assumption that increasing perceptions of apprehension certainty, such as through random road-side testing, may yet prove to be an effective method of reducing the burden of drug driving on road safety.