Truckie-targeted drug testing could drive people away: industry

By: Jason Whittaker


Plans to target heavy vehicle drivers in the Northern Territory with roadside drug testing will marginalise the transport industry and

Plans to target heavy vehicle drivers in the Northern Territory with roadside drug testing will marginalise the transport industry and could perpetuate the skills shortage crisis, the industry argues.

The NT Government will next month introduce random drug testing legislation.

But rather than testing all motorists, only drivers in vehicles over four-and-a-half tonnes will be pulled over, which rules out testing anyone not operating a heavy vehicle.

Peter Goed, the Executive Director of the Australian Trucking Association Northern Territory (ATA NT), supports uniform random drug testing but says singling out truck drivers infers the trucking industry is full of drugs.

"What it is saying is that we need to target truckies because they are the bad guys when it comes to drugs," he says.

"It is painting us once again in a bad light."

Furthermore, Goed believes the legislation will add to the skills shortage crisis already crippling the transport industry because young people will be deterred from becoming truck drivers.

"They will have a vision of all these drug-addicted truck drivers roaring up and down the road in monsters trying to kill people," he says.

He says the legislation creates a perception at odds with the reality of the trucking industry.

"The overall number of drivers are doing the right thing," he says.

"They're the same as everybody else; they don't want people on the road who are full of booze or full of drugs."

Queensland police officers last week tested 268 drivers with only one returning a positive result.

Victoria Police in 2006 released figures which showed one in every 69 heavy vehicle drivers returned a positive drug test compared with one in every 40 for car drivers. Of the 3,070 heavy vehicle operators tested by Victorian police officers in 2005, 49 returned a positive reading.

Goed says the ATA NT will next week meet with the Government to express its concerns over the legislation.

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