New laws target distracted and drug drivers

Drug drivers and motorists who illegally use their mobile phones will be targeted as part of the NSW Government’s road safety reforms which have passed NSW Parliament.

The Road Transport Legislation Amendment (Road Safety) Bill 2018 extends powers relating to roadside oral testing for cocaine, increases penalties for driving under the influence and enables camera based enforcement of illegal mobile phone use.

Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight Melinda Pavey said that the reforms would help to achieve the NSW Government’s road safety goals as part of the Road Safety Plan 2021.

“NSW is the first jurisdiction in Australia to introduce legislation like the Road Safety Bill, showing this Government’s ongoing commitment to road safety as technology and societal trends change,” Mrs Pavey said.

Last year 74 people lost their lives in crashes where a driver or rider had an illicit drug present in their system.

“Driving under the influence of drugs has emerged as a significant factor in our road toll, along with alcohol, speeding, fatigue and mobile phone distraction.”

From 2012 to 2017, 184 crashes involved illegal mobile phone use, which resulted in 7 deaths and 105 injuries.

The legislative reforms will come into effect from 1 July 2018.

The Bill:

Amends the Road Transport Act 2013 to:

  • toughen penalties for drivers under the influence of drugs
  • include cocaine within the mobile drug testing regime; and
  • enable enforcement of camera detected mobile phone use offences

– Amends the Transport Administration Act 1988 to pay any fines from camera detected mobile phone offences to the Community Road Safety Fund

– Amends the Marine Safety Act 1998 to ensure regimes for oral fluid drug testing applies to marine drivers and vessel operators.