Taskforce to fight SA ice epidemic

South Australian drivers are five times more likely to share the road with drivers under the influence of ice than they were ten years ago.

Results from roadside testing by SA Police showed that 2,903 driver or riders tested positive to methamphetamine in 2016, compared to 533 in 2010.

These statistics reveal an alarming increase of 445 per cent, cementing ice as the most commonly detected drug on the state’s roads.

From July 2015 to June 2016, 28 per cent of drivers or riders killed in fatal crashes tested positive for the presence of cannabis, methamphetamine or ecstasy or a combination of these drugs. 

These figures compare to 24 per cent in 2015 and a 5 year average of 22 per cent.

On Tuesday, the state government announced a South Australian Ice Task Force to combat the growing use of ice across the state.

Premier Jay Weatherill said ice posed a qualitatively different danger to the SA community than any drug the government had encountered before and as use is on the rise, the risk continues to grow.

“Affecting users more dangerously than other drugs, the impact is being felt across the system - from our emergency rooms to frontline policing and child protection.”

Ice use in South Australia has tripled in the past four years, with the latest waste water testing showing 400 doses per week per 1,000 South Australians.

Minister for Road Safety Peter Malinauskas said the new taskforce would implement tougher drug driver penalties to increase safety on our roads.

“The rates of drink driving, through the use of increased enforcement and community education, continue to decline, and the goal is to achieve this success in the reduction of drug driving,” he said.

“We can’t wait for the National Taskforce to solve this problem for us, we need to look at this at a State level and a local level, bringing in experts from across law enforcement and health sectors.”

Minister for Substance Abuse Leesa Vlahos said the Task Force was part of the South Australian Alcohol and Other Drug Strategy 2017-2021, which includes specific actions to address issues with methamphetamine.

“It includes a strong focus on early intervention, with actions to address issues such as parenting, education, trauma and social networks,” she said.

Motor Accident Commission Community Engagement Manager Matt Hanton said their latest drug driving campaign aimed to educate road users on the effects of illegal drugs in impairing judgement.

“Our research showed a common misconception about how long drugs can impair a person’s ability to drive, which is leading drivers to make the wrong choice,” he said.

Mr Hanton said roadside drug driving tests could detect the impairing substance in methamphetamine for at least 24 hours.

“South Australia leads the nation in drug driver enforcement, conducting more tests per capita than any other state; so make no mistake, drug drive and you will get caught,” he said.