Results of the Queensland 2007-2012 roadside drug testing program: The prevalence of three illicit drugs

Accid Anal Prev. 2014 Apr;65:11-7. doi: 10.1016/j.aap.2013.12.007. Epub 2013 Dec 19.


The purpose of this investigation is to present an overview of roadside drug driving enforcement and detections in Queensland, Australia since the introduction of oral fluid screening. Drug driving is a problematic issue for road safety and investigations of the prevalence and impact of drug driving suggest that, in particular, the use of illicit drugs may increase a driver's involvement in a road crash when compared to a driver who is drug free. In response to the potential increased crash involvement of drug impaired drivers, Australian police agencies have adopted the use of oral fluid analysis to detect the presence of illicit drugs in drivers. This paper describes the results of roadside drug testing for over 80,000 drivers in Queensland, Australia, from December 2007 to June 2012. It provides unique data on the prevalence of methamphetamine, cannabis and ecstasy in the screened population for the period. When prevalence rates are examined over time, drug driving detection rates have almost doubled from around 2.0% at the introduction of roadside testing operations to just under 4.0% in the latter years. The most common drug type detected was methamphetamine (40.8%) followed by cannabis (29.8%) and methamphetamine/cannabis combination (22.5%). By comparison, the rate of ecstasy detection was very low (1.7%). The data revealed a number of regional, age and gender patterns and variations of drug driving across the state. Younger drivers were more likely to test positive for cannabis whilst older drivers were more likely to test positive for methamphetamine. The overall characteristics of drivers who tested positive to the presence of at least one of the target illicit drugs are they are likely to be male, aged 30-39 years, be driving a car on Friday, Saturday or Sunday between 6:00 pm and 6:00 am and to test positive for methamphetamine.

Keywords: Drug driving; Enforcement; Roadside drug testing.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic / prevention & control
  • Accidents, Traffic / statistics & numerical data
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Amphetamine-Related Disorders / diagnosis
  • Amphetamine-Related Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Automobile Driving / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Automobile Driving / statistics & numerical data*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Illicit Drugs*
  • Male
  • Marijuana Abuse / diagnosis
  • Marijuana Abuse / epidemiology*
  • Methamphetamine*
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Vehicles / statistics & numerical data
  • N-Methyl-3,4-methylenedioxyamphetamine*
  • Queensland
  • Substance Abuse Detection / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Substance Abuse Detection / statistics & numerical data*
  • Young Adult


  • Illicit Drugs
  • Methamphetamine
  • N-Methyl-3,4-methylenedioxyamphetamine