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Top cop says: extend chain of responsibility to drugs

Senior Victoria Police officer wants supply chains held accountable for drug use among drivers.


Policy makers should extend chain of responsibility (COR) to drugs to reduce the prevalence of truck drivers taking illicit substances, according to one of Victoria’s top cops.

Detective inspector Bernie Rankin, who heads Victoria Police’s transport investigations unit, believes greater focus needs to be placed on the effectiveness of workplace drug testing regimes.

In an interview with Owner//Driver, Rankin says some truckies are constantly testing positive to drugs.

“My view is that chain of responsibility should certainly extend to vehicle maintenance and I think now’s probably a good time to look at it.

“Should it extend to drug testing regimes if a company can be demonstrated to show that they’ve had a number of drivers detected positive to illicit substances?”

Rankin’s proposal, if introduced, will effectively mean companies in the transport supply chain will need to demonstrate they are taking steps to ensure drivers do not need to take drugs to do their jobs.

“I think if we can look at a situation where we identify some behaviours in a particular transport company, well perhaps it should extend that far,” Rankin says of COR.

“In the last couple of years we’ve had a number of companies that have had more than two drivers test positive in a short period of time, so that would always cause us alarm. Is there an individual in those companies who is sharing these products with their workmates?”

Rankin says roadside drug tests over the past three years have continually generated one positive result for every 14 drivers tested.

“Now, that’s a significant number of people,” he says.

“That’s not to say that is one in 14 of the entire fleet of drivers. That would be totally incorrect because there are thousands of drivers out there who wouldn’tfor one minute consider taking illicit substances.

“There are that small percentage in the industry who are definitely constantly taking illicit substances for various reasons.”

COR currently applies to speed, fatigue and vehicle mass and dimension in most jurisdictions, and transport ministers recently agreed to also apply it to vehicle maintenance.

While he believes COR will help combat drug use in the trucking industry, Rankin is also putting the onus on truck drivers to take responsibility.

“At the end of the day the issue is for the individual driver. He’s just got to understand he can’t take those substances and any nonsense he’s heard that they help him stay awake or improve his ability to drive is just absolute nonsense,” he says.

“I can line up any number of medical experts who will tell you what the real impact is of people taking illicit substances and getting behind the wheel.”

You can read the full interview with Bernie Rankin in the July edition of Owner//Driver.


Photography: Brad Gardner

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