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NSW drink-driving rates rise as tests dive

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NSW has dropped the ball on policing drunk drivers, a motoring group says, after roadside breath tests in the state halved in two years.

Amid COVID-19 lockdowns, about 2.8 million roadside tests were conducted in NSW in 2021, compared to more than six million in 2019.

Yet, the rate of drink-drivers caught rose from one in every 333 drivers to one in 200.

That was leading to more complacency among drivers and police, NRMA spokesperson Peter Khoury said on Friday.

“We need to crack down on this bad behaviour,” Mr Khoury said.

“It’s one thing to catch people. The message to drivers is don’t become another statistic.”

Almost 50 people have died in alcohol-related crashes in 2022 while more than 300 have been seriously injured.

In all, 267 people have died on NSW roads this year – 23 more than the same time last year.

The NRMA said it was seriously concerned a lack of focus on testing was leading to “dangerous levels of risk-taking as people don’t think they will get caught”.

The motoring body said NSW Police should raise the number of random breath tests (RBT) to 110 per cent of the number of driver licences in the state. That would mean more than 7.7 million tests annually.

“The lack of investment in RBT across NSW is both dangerous and worrying,” Mr Khoury said.

“It’s one thing to catch people. We want to stop that behaviour to begin with and the best way to do that is to make sure that you’ve got more RBTs on the road, clearly visible anywhere anytime in local communities.”

About $23 million was spent on road safety initiatives by police, with almost double invested in speed and mobile phone detection cameras.

Mr Khoury believes the resources could be better spent on getting police visible on the roads.

It is illegal for all drivers to have a blood alcohol concentration exceeding 0.05. Learner or provisional drivers are not allowed to have any alcohol in their system.

NSW Police said it could not provide comment until Monday.

– AAP



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