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ACT driver behaviour ‘alarming’, ‘reckless’ and ‘beyond comprehension’

By Charlotte Harper 12 January 2017 29

Police wrap

ACT Policing have issued a statement expressing concern at “alarming driver behaviour so far in 2017” saying the number of drivers caught doing the wrong thing so far was “beyond comprehension”, and citing examples including the discovery of a driver on the road with a child under the age of four unrestrained.

“ACT Policing is disappointed with the disregard shown on our roads already this year,” the statement reads.

“The first 11 days of 2017 has seen ACT Policing’s Traffic Operations Team issue more than 480 Traffic Infringement Notices and Cautions, with several of these being for high range speeding.

“One driver was caught travelling 98km/h over the posted speed limit, driving at 178km/h on Belconnen Way in Macquarie.

“Further high range speeding infringements included;

151km/h in a 90km/h zone
99km/h in a 60km/h zone
135km/h in a 80km/h zone
126km/h in a 60km/h zone
99km/h in a 40km/h zone”

According to the statement, Acting Officer in Charge of Traffic, Station Sergeant Ken Hedges said this behaviour was not good enough.

“These high range speeders all local Canberra drivers putting themselves and members of their own community at risk,” he said.

“They show a complete disregard for the road rules and take zero responsibility for road safety.”

ACT Policing officers have also issued infringements including but not limited to driving while uninsured, driving while using a mobile phone, illegal U-turns, negligent driving and driving with a child under 4-years-old unrestrained.

“This type of behaviour is reckless as it can have such disastrous consequences. Think of your own friends and family and how you feel about putting them at risk,” Station Sergeant Hedges said.


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ACT driver behaviour ‘alarming’, ‘reckless’ and ‘beyond comprehension’
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Chris Mordd Richards 7:07 pm 26 Jan 17

Laurel said :

Thanks for the info, Chris. Sounds like the UK and NZ have much more reasonable sytems intesting for impairment rather than simply the presence of drugs.

Indeed, I have been researching this area for abut 9 months or so now. My 1st ever serious piece submitted to here last year (shortly b4 i decided on my new career as a journo) was about Drug Driving in the ACT and NSW.

It wasn’t written well enough though, I was making assertions that although not false, needed to be backed up with sources and other facts I hadn’t included. So Charlotte rightly knocked it back and asked me to rewrite it. Being my first ever serious attempt at news writing, looking back on the original draft now it never stood a chance of being published as it was, it was not written well enough at all.

In the process of researching it more to rewrite, I came across how the UK and NZ were doing things, and decided to expand the scope of the article. Since then I have been getting access to research papers from around the world on drug driving and the article scope has blown way out from it’s original now lol. My intention is for it to be my first ever long form piece, wherever it ends up being published. I’ve been doing a 5-10hrs a month it for the past 9 months now, in between all my other writing, and decided quite a while back I wouldn’t attempt to publish it again until it was a proper well written, well referenced and backed up long form look at drug driving legislation in Aus, and compared to NZ and the UK, so I accepted I might be working on it for up to a year before it was going to be ready again.

Not sure at this stage when it will be ready, sometime before mid year at latest I hope, but I have gleaned a decent amount of knowledge on this area from the research I have done for that now, and look forward to being able to publish it soon’ish, I think it is quite a fascinating piece in it’s current draft state at the moment.

Laurel 6:33 pm 25 Jan 17

Chris Mordd Richards said :

Laurel said :

rommeldog56 said :

Laurel said :

Random drug testing needs to be stopped right away as it is a badly flawed instrument.

Even though the facts of the effects of alcohol on driving were long ago established, it took ages for random breath testing to be introduced. In contrast, there is very little reliable evidence on the effect of drugs on driving, and much of what is presented as evidence by lawmakers to support their methods concerns mixed drugs and alcohol, and not drugs by themselves.

Surely u carnt be serious. What evidence do u need other to watch and listen to people affected by illegal drugs such as Ice and dope who are out and about. Clearly many of those are not capable of driving a car.

I congratulate the police for random drug testing of drivers. There should be more of it. It keeps all other people on the road that little bit safer.

If people are affected by amphetamines or cannabis, then they should be booked, but to do this lawfully, there first needs to be established blood chemical limits for these substances above which driving ability is demonstrably impaired – just as it is for alcohol.

At this point, there are no reliable guides as to the safe limits, so booking drivers for ANY drugs in their system is unfair and amounts to little more than fishing expeditions better associated with authoritariane types of government.

The police have far too much power to abuse in this respect, and the legislators that put these laws on the books need to hear about it. The random drug tests as they stand are unacceptable in a free society.

The UK is leading the way on this actually, by using an impairment based approach not a zero tolerance any detectable level approach. They also test for 5x the number of substances ACT and other States test for in Aus. The tech is there, why aren’t we using it too? Drive on cocaine – fine in Aus! Drive on cannabis – go to jail! Interesting standard that is! The UK tests for impairment first, then if you show any signs of possible impairment, only then are you tested for presence of substances in saliva or blood, and there are still minimum levels they look for then, under which you won’t be charged. The levels are still quite low and not quite equivalent yet to the 0.05 level for alcohol, but the UK ditched the zero tolerance approach, along with New Zealand, a number of years back and switched to an impairment based approach instead, which stats from the last few years show is working far better at reducing rates of crashes with drug affected drivers than the zero tolerance ever did or could ever hope to.

This is one issue where I do not agree with the ACT Greens current approach to this nor their role in bringing in zero tolerance detectable level approach in the ACT, and I look forward to all political parties in Australia looking at how NZ and the UK have been doing it for the past few years and realise they ditched zero tolerance for a very good reason, and we need to do the same as well. Or make the alcohol limit 0.00 to at least be consistent then with the drug driving zero tolerance any detectable level regardless of actual impairment or not.

Thanks for the info, Chris. Sounds like the UK and NZ have much more reasonable sytems intesting for impairment rather than simply the presence of drugs.

Chris Mordd Richards 3:03 pm 23 Jan 17

dungfungus said :

Chris Mordd Richards said :

dungfungus said :

Chris Mordd Richards said :

ChrisinTurner said :

Imagine how many they would catch if they used unmarked police cars and saw the idiots we all see every day.

This is a fair point, the ACT does seem to have a lot less unmarked road patrol cars than other States, from an ordinary person’s perspective. I would support increasing the number of unmarked road patrol vehicles, it’s the only time the real hoons get caught.

If they’re “unmarked” how can you tell if they are “unmarked police cars”?
The same applies to ones in other states or anywhere for that matter and what do you mean by an “ordinary person’s perspective”?

You only really know if they are unmarked if you are pulled over or you happen to pass by as they are booking someone else (with covert blue lights flashing).

I can tell you that the ACT traffic police use a lot of unmarked “bogan-type” utilities to mingle unsuspectingly amongst us.

I often see them booking people on the side of the road. Is the only way to know for sure yes, but given so many speeding all the time, if we had more, you would see more of them booking people, so yes I think from that we don’t actually have that many here, anecdotally.

But then you don’t believe Trump won the election either.

Sure, let’s go with that.

crackerpants 11:39 am 23 Jan 17

Laurel said :

Maryann Mussared said :

And what about that alarming statistic of nearly one in three drivers drugs tested over the Christmas New Year period testing positive to drugs?

Random drug testing needs to be stopped right away as it is a badly flawed instrument.

Even though the facts of the effects of alcohol on driving were long ago established, it took ages for random breath testing to be introduced. In contrast, there is very little reliable evidence on the effect of drugs on driving, and much of what is presented as evidence by lawmakers to support their methods concerns mixed drugs and alcohol, and not drugs by themselves.

In addition, if one has a prescription for certain drugs, then it is not considered an offence, so there are reasons for seeing the random drug testing not as an accident-preventing tool, but rather a roadside morals test, as it only applies to illegal drugs.

Test for alcohol and leave it at that, as that is where the danger lies. Testing for drugs, at least until reliable blood levels are established, is a massive overreach by the authorities and should be subject to a moratorium.

Agreed. To have “alcohol” on one hand, then “drugs” on the other – what does that even mean? Alcohol is a drug – a well-studied one with clear effects on motor skills and cognition. What does “drug” testing cover? Prescription medicines? Illicit drugs? The methodology and the assumption on which it is based are ridiculously flawed, as exemplified by a number of drivers facing court having smoked a joint days or weeks before driving. Someone on ice is going to behave very differently when driving to someone who is drunk (cognitively impaired) or stoned (slow to react but overcompensating for this – and that’s assuming they can be bothered driving anywhere in the first place). It would be interesting to see what health technology assessment was undertaken by state governments in implementing “drug” testing.

That said, if everyone could just get off their phones and concentrate on driving in a straight line, that’d be great.

dungfungus 8:39 am 23 Jan 17

Chris Mordd Richards said :

dungfungus said :

Chris Mordd Richards said :

ChrisinTurner said :

Imagine how many they would catch if they used unmarked police cars and saw the idiots we all see every day.

This is a fair point, the ACT does seem to have a lot less unmarked road patrol cars than other States, from an ordinary person’s perspective. I would support increasing the number of unmarked road patrol vehicles, it’s the only time the real hoons get caught.

If they’re “unmarked” how can you tell if they are “unmarked police cars”?
The same applies to ones in other states or anywhere for that matter and what do you mean by an “ordinary person’s perspective”?

You only really know if they are unmarked if you are pulled over or you happen to pass by as they are booking someone else (with covert blue lights flashing).

I can tell you that the ACT traffic police use a lot of unmarked “bogan-type” utilities to mingle unsuspectingly amongst us.

I often see them booking people on the side of the road. Is the only way to know for sure yes, but given so many speeding all the time, if we had more, you would see more of them booking people, so yes I think from that we don’t actually have that many here, anecdotally.

But then you don’t believe Trump won the election either.

Chris Mordd Richards 8:02 am 23 Jan 17

dungfungus said :

Chris Mordd Richards said :

ChrisinTurner said :

Imagine how many they would catch if they used unmarked police cars and saw the idiots we all see every day.

This is a fair point, the ACT does seem to have a lot less unmarked road patrol cars than other States, from an ordinary person’s perspective. I would support increasing the number of unmarked road patrol vehicles, it’s the only time the real hoons get caught.

If they’re “unmarked” how can you tell if they are “unmarked police cars”?
The same applies to ones in other states or anywhere for that matter and what do you mean by an “ordinary person’s perspective”?

You only really know if they are unmarked if you are pulled over or you happen to pass by as they are booking someone else (with covert blue lights flashing).

I can tell you that the ACT traffic police use a lot of unmarked “bogan-type” utilities to mingle unsuspectingly amongst us.

I often see them booking people on the side of the road. Is the only way to know for sure yes, but given so many speeding all the time, if we had more, you would see more of them booking people, so yes I think from that we don’t actually have that many here, anecdotally.

dungfungus 10:07 pm 21 Jan 17

wildturkeycanoe said :

The current roadworks to reseal Southern Cross drive has a big bright speed warning sign in the dividing island, which also alerts you to your speed [even though it shows about 5 km/h more than actual speed]. I think a better deterrent would be this – Incorporate the new ticketless parking system with speed cameras and roadwork illuminated signage. As you drive through the roadwork zone, a camera scans your number plate. A speed camera checks your speed. If you are over the posted limit, the illuminated sign displays your number plate, speed and a message saying “YYY-XXX – Your details and current speed have been sent to the Australian Federal Police. Expect to receive a fine in the mail.” I wonder if that would slow people down?

The equipment would have to be calibrated according to regulations etc. That would too hard for this government.

wildturkeycanoe 6:49 pm 21 Jan 17

The current roadworks to reseal Southern Cross drive has a big bright speed warning sign in the dividing island, which also alerts you to your speed [even though it shows about 5 km/h more than actual speed]. I think a better deterrent would be this – Incorporate the new ticketless parking system with speed cameras and roadwork illuminated signage. As you drive through the roadwork zone, a camera scans your number plate. A speed camera checks your speed. If you are over the posted limit, the illuminated sign displays your number plate, speed and a message saying “YYY-XXX – Your details and current speed have been sent to the Australian Federal Police. Expect to receive a fine in the mail.” I wonder if that would slow people down?

dungfungus 12:01 pm 21 Jan 17

Chris Mordd Richards said :

ChrisinTurner said :

Imagine how many they would catch if they used unmarked police cars and saw the idiots we all see every day.

This is a fair point, the ACT does seem to have a lot less unmarked road patrol cars than other States, from an ordinary person’s perspective. I would support increasing the number of unmarked road patrol vehicles, it’s the only time the real hoons get caught.

If they’re “unmarked” how can you tell if they are “unmarked police cars”?
The same applies to ones in other states or anywhere for that matter and what do you mean by an “ordinary person’s perspective”?

You only really know if they are unmarked if you are pulled over or you happen to pass by as they are booking someone else (with covert blue lights flashing).

I can tell you that the ACT traffic police use a lot of unmarked “bogan-type” utilities to mingle unsuspectingly amongst us.

Chris Mordd Richards 11:27 pm 20 Jan 17

ChrisinTurner said :

Imagine how many they would catch if they used unmarked police cars and saw the idiots we all see every day.

This is a fair point, the ACT does seem to have a lot less unmarked road patrol cars than other States, from an ordinary person’s perspective. I would support increasing the number of unmarked road patrol vehicles, it’s the only time the real hoons get caught.

ChrisinTurner 5:14 pm 19 Jan 17

Imagine how many they would catch if they used unmarked police cars and saw the idiots we all see every day.

Mysteryman 9:52 am 17 Jan 17

I’ll summarise the current situation, shall I?

ACT Government introduces speed cameras, and mobile speed camera locations and tell us it’s to combat speeding and increase road safety.

Large numbers of ACT divers get fined. Roads don’t get any safer.

ACT Government introduces morespeed cameras, and more mobile speed camera locations because more drivers are doing the wrong thing and the roads aren’t getting safer

ACT drivers rack up more infringements, and road safety doesn’t improve.

ACT police complain about more reckless behaviour than in past.

I expect we’ll now see the ACT government increase fines and announce more fixed speed cameras, despite their approach over the last decade failing miserably.

Chris Mordd Richards 1:20 am 17 Jan 17

Laurel said :

rommeldog56 said :

Laurel said :

Random drug testing needs to be stopped right away as it is a badly flawed instrument.

Even though the facts of the effects of alcohol on driving were long ago established, it took ages for random breath testing to be introduced. In contrast, there is very little reliable evidence on the effect of drugs on driving, and much of what is presented as evidence by lawmakers to support their methods concerns mixed drugs and alcohol, and not drugs by themselves.

Surely u carnt be serious. What evidence do u need other to watch and listen to people affected by illegal drugs such as Ice and dope who are out and about. Clearly many of those are not capable of driving a car.

I congratulate the police for random drug testing of drivers. There should be more of it. It keeps all other people on the road that little bit safer.

If people are affected by amphetamines or cannabis, then they should be booked, but to do this lawfully, there first needs to be established blood chemical limits for these substances above which driving ability is demonstrably impaired – just as it is for alcohol.

At this point, there are no reliable guides as to the safe limits, so booking drivers for ANY drugs in their system is unfair and amounts to little more than fishing expeditions better associated with authoritariane types of government.

The police have far too much power to abuse in this respect, and the legislators that put these laws on the books need to hear about it. The random drug tests as they stand are unacceptable in a free society.

The UK is leading the way on this actually, by using an impairment based approach not a zero tolerance any detectable level approach. They also test for 5x the number of substances ACT and other States test for in Aus. The tech is there, why aren’t we using it too? Drive on cocaine – fine in Aus! Drive on cannabis – go to jail! Interesting standard that is! The UK tests for impairment first, then if you show any signs of possible impairment, only then are you tested for presence of substances in saliva or blood, and there are still minimum levels they look for then, under which you won’t be charged. The levels are still quite low and not quite equivalent yet to the 0.05 level for alcohol, but the UK ditched the zero tolerance approach, along with New Zealand, a number of years back and switched to an impairment based approach instead, which stats from the last few years show is working far better at reducing rates of crashes with drug affected drivers than the zero tolerance ever did or could ever hope to.

This is one issue where I do not agree with the ACT Greens current approach to this nor their role in bringing in zero tolerance detectable level approach in the ACT, and I look forward to all political parties in Australia looking at how NZ and the UK have been doing it for the past few years and realise they ditched zero tolerance for a very good reason, and we need to do the same as well. Or make the alcohol limit 0.00 to at least be consistent then with the drug driving zero tolerance any detectable level regardless of actual impairment or not.

Laurel 2:27 pm 16 Jan 17

dungfungus said :

rommeldog56 said :

Laurel said :

Random drug testing needs to be stopped right away as it is a badly flawed instrument.

Even though the facts of the effects of alcohol on driving were long ago established, it took ages for random breath testing to be introduced. In contrast, there is very little reliable evidence on the effect of drugs on driving, and much of what is presented as evidence by lawmakers to support their methods concerns mixed drugs and alcohol, and not drugs by themselves.

Surely u carnt be serious. What evidence do u need other to watch and listen to people affected by illegal drugs such as Ice and dope who are out and about. Clearly many of those are not capable of driving a car.

I congratulate the police for random drug testing of drivers. There should be more of it. It keeps all other people on the road that little bit safer.

Under the new regime in the Philippines, drivers who are detected driving cars on drugs may be summarily executed.

Imagine that happening in Canberra.

Judging by the way voters rolled over for the light rail, most here would probaly be quite happy giving such powers to the local authorities.

Laurel 2:20 pm 16 Jan 17

rommeldog56 said :

Laurel said :

Random drug testing needs to be stopped right away as it is a badly flawed instrument.

Even though the facts of the effects of alcohol on driving were long ago established, it took ages for random breath testing to be introduced. In contrast, there is very little reliable evidence on the effect of drugs on driving, and much of what is presented as evidence by lawmakers to support their methods concerns mixed drugs and alcohol, and not drugs by themselves.

Surely u carnt be serious. What evidence do u need other to watch and listen to people affected by illegal drugs such as Ice and dope who are out and about. Clearly many of those are not capable of driving a car.

I congratulate the police for random drug testing of drivers. There should be more of it. It keeps all other people on the road that little bit safer.

If people are affected by amphetamines or cannabis, then they should be booked, but to do this lawfully, there first needs to be established blood chemical limits for these substances above which driving ability is demonstrably impaired – just as it is for alcohol.

At this point, there are no reliable guides as to the safe limits, so booking drivers for ANY drugs in their system is unfair and amounts to little more than fishing expeditions better associated with authoritariane types of government.

The police have far too much power to abuse in this respect, and the legislators that put these laws on the books need to hear about it. The random drug tests as they stand are unacceptable in a free society.

HenryBG 1:18 pm 16 Jan 17

They wouldn’t graduate to endangering lives driving at high speed if the police adopted a “broken windows” approach and pulled-over & fined every single person for every single minor infraction instead of turning a blind eye to improper use of lights, fail to indicate, tail-gating, etc…
They speed dangerously, because they’ ve learned that nobody is enforcing the road rules.

tim_c 12:46 pm 16 Jan 17

Why should we be so surprised that people show little regard for the road rules – our government has spent the last few years demonstrating that the road rules don’t need to be obeyed eg. driving with fog lights on in clear weather, parking on nature strips or footpaths, driving an unroadworthy vehicle, cyclists (and pedestrians) crossing against the red light – even the ridiculous increase of speedbumps in ACT demonstrates that you’re no longer expected to obey the posted speed limit, you only have to slow down at certain critical points.

While I’m not necessarily saying we should fine everyone who uses their foglights in clear weather, or parks on nature strips or blocking footpaths, but if it’s really not such a problem, then why are these things still illegal? If they are illegal, and the ACT government does nothing about drivers who break those laws, what message does that send other than “you can pick and choose which road rules (if any) you want to obey”?

dungfungus 9:12 am 16 Jan 17

rommeldog56 said :

Laurel said :

Random drug testing needs to be stopped right away as it is a badly flawed instrument.

Even though the facts of the effects of alcohol on driving were long ago established, it took ages for random breath testing to be introduced. In contrast, there is very little reliable evidence on the effect of drugs on driving, and much of what is presented as evidence by lawmakers to support their methods concerns mixed drugs and alcohol, and not drugs by themselves.

Surely u carnt be serious. What evidence do u need other to watch and listen to people affected by illegal drugs such as Ice and dope who are out and about. Clearly many of those are not capable of driving a car.

I congratulate the police for random drug testing of drivers. There should be more of it. It keeps all other people on the road that little bit safer.

Under the new regime in the Philippines, drivers who are detected driving cars on drugs may be summarily executed.

Imagine that happening in Canberra.

rommeldog56 7:47 am 16 Jan 17

Laurel said :

Random drug testing needs to be stopped right away as it is a badly flawed instrument.

Even though the facts of the effects of alcohol on driving were long ago established, it took ages for random breath testing to be introduced. In contrast, there is very little reliable evidence on the effect of drugs on driving, and much of what is presented as evidence by lawmakers to support their methods concerns mixed drugs and alcohol, and not drugs by themselves.

Surely u carnt be serious. What evidence do u need other to watch and listen to people affected by illegal drugs such as Ice and dope who are out and about. Clearly many of those are not capable of driving a car.

I congratulate the police for random drug testing of drivers. There should be more of it. It keeps all other people on the road that little bit safer.

Laurel 1:41 pm 15 Jan 17

Maryann Mussared said :

And what about that alarming statistic of nearly one in three drivers drugs tested over the Christmas New Year period testing positive to drugs?

Random drug testing needs to be stopped right away as it is a badly flawed instrument.

Even though the facts of the effects of alcohol on driving were long ago established, it took ages for random breath testing to be introduced. In contrast, there is very little reliable evidence on the effect of drugs on driving, and much of what is presented as evidence by lawmakers to support their methods concerns mixed drugs and alcohol, and not drugs by themselves.

In addition, if one has a prescription for certain drugs, then it is not considered an offence, so there are reasons for seeing the random drug testing not as an accident-preventing tool, but rather a roadside morals test, as it only applies to illegal drugs.

Test for alcohol and leave it at that, as that is where the danger lies. Testing for drugs, at least until reliable blood levels are established, is a massive overreach by the authorities and should be subject to a moratorium.

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