Many of you would know that in 2006 NSW will see the introduction of roadside drug testing. This will be based on the Victorian model which was introduced late last year. This involves drivers being pulled over and asked to chew on a small stick.

From the saliva sample that is collected, the police are able to tell if the person has recently used cannabis, amphetamine or ecstasy. Many people have been asking what sort of impact this testing will have on most NSW citizens.

The simple answer is that most drivers will never come into contact with the mobile testing service. However, it may have a great impact on inner-city clubbers as, with the Victorian model, this system is not really designed for the general public but particular groups that are known to engage in drug driving behaviour.

Two groups which have come under particular scrutiny are truck drivers and clubbers, both of which are known to use amphetamine type substances and then get behind the wheel of a vehicle.

So what sort of effects do stimulant drugs like crystal and ecstasy have on driving? Unfortunately, there is a lack of information on stimulants and driving performance, which is limited mainly to laboratory and field studies.

The laboratory studies looking at low levels of amphetamines have found they have few negative effects on psychomotor performance, and in some cases they have been found to enhance performance (though typically only in fatigued subjects performing simple tasks). There is some evidence from laboratory studies of psychomotor and cognitive impairment after administration of ecstasy (MDMA) in such areas as attention, memory and perception.

While there are very few simulator or driving studies on stimulants and driving performance, recent research using a driving simulator provided evidence of a form of tunnel vision after amphetamine administration, in which individuals focus on only one aspect of the visual field, and ignore stimuli in their peripheral vision.

There is only a limited amount of research on stimulants and driving performance and what has been done is inconsistent. A specific area that requires further research is that of the impact on driving performance caused by fatigue after stimulant use.

This issue is of particular concern for long-distance heavy vehicle drivers, a group frequently found positive for stimulants. Also in need of further research is the link between increased confidence and risk-taking after stimulant risk, and whether this significantly increases accident risk.

Driving home from a night of clubbing can be very risky. Although many people think they are more than capable, their perception has been altered. The one place that you do not want your perception affected is behind the wheel of a car.

When roadside drug testing is introduced, the risk is even greater as there is a chance you could get pulled over and charged.

Remember: if you do not want any negative consequences, do not use the drug and, no matter how many times you have used a substance, never be blas?/p>

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