Evidence of meeting #65 for Justice and Human Rights in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was impaired.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Daryl Mayers  Chair, Alcohol Test Committee, Canadian Society of Forensic Science
Patricia Hynes-Coates  National President, Mothers Against Drunk Driving
Andrew Murie  Chief Executive Officer, Mothers Against Drunk Driving
John Bates  Chief of Police, Saint John Police Force
Catherine Latimer  Executive Director, John Howard Society of Canada
Michael Stewart  Program Director, Arrive Alive DRIVE SOBER
Louis Hugo Francescutti  Professor, School of Public Health, University of Alberta, As an Individual
Anne Leonard  President, Arrive Alive DRIVE SOBER
Rachelle Wallage  Chair, Drugs and Driving Committee, Canadian Society of Forensic Science
John Gullick  Chair, Canadian Safe Boating Council
Michael Vollmer  Vice-Chair, Canadian Safe Boating Council
Barry Watson  Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Health, Queensland University of Technology, As an Individual
Thomas Marcotte  Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of California, Co-Director, Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research
Commissioner Doug Fryer  Assistant Commissioner, Road Policing Command, Victoria Police

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Housefather

Thank you very much.

Mr. Ehsassi.

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

Ali Ehsassi Liberal Willowdale, ON

Let me start off my questioning with Mr. Stewart. First of all, I'd like to congratulate you for all the great work that your organization does, Arrive Alive.

My question is this. In your testimony you refer to the experience in both Colorado and Washington. I assume you're familiar with the way they approached impaired driving. In your opinion, what did they get wrong? What are the lessons that we're supposed to draw, given that they did it a few years earlier than we are doing?

5:15 p.m.

Program Director, Arrive Alive DRIVE SOBER

Michael Stewart

From what we've heard from our colleagues down there.... We had a speaker at our conference last year who was from Washington state. He was a police officer there and was in the governor's office in charge of highway traffic safety.

One thing he spoke to—and we've heard it from Colorado as well—was, if they could go back in time and fix what they did, to have a robust education program in place. They've all agreed that this is where they dropped the ball. They did not have education in place in time for legalization. They did education afterwards, and because of that, they saw increases in their drug-impaired driving incidents and fatalities.

What we would urge the government in Canada to do is to have a robust education plan in place not the day before July 1, 2018, but preferably by the end of this year, if they could, just to have as many months as possible before the July 1 date to make Canadians aware of the dangers of combining drugs and driving.

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

Ali Ehsassi Liberal Willowdale, ON

Great.

In your opinion, then, knowing what their experience was and also knowing about the package that the government put together for capacity building amongst officers, for raising public awareness, for bolstering research, do you think we're headed in the right direction and that this was a responsible approach?

5:15 p.m.

Program Director, Arrive Alive DRIVE SOBER

Michael Stewart

I think that giving as much money as the government can to this situation is good. The number, as you stated earlier, was $270 million, give or take maybe a million or two. Obviously, we would prefer that number to be higher, but that is a good start, and it's good that the government has made the commitment.

We would just ask that the government accelerate their pace. It's one thing to make the promise of investing all this money into education and enforcement, but it's also important to reiterate that all this should be in place and ready for the July 1 date.

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

Ali Ehsassi Liberal Willowdale, ON

Also, this committee received a letter from the United States in which the Attorney General and the Governor of Colorado said that by investing more money in training police officers they have now seen a decline in 2017 from 2016, which essentially explains the package we put together.

Thank you for that.

5:15 p.m.

Program Director, Arrive Alive DRIVE SOBER

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

Ali Ehsassi Liberal Willowdale, ON

Now let me ask Dr. Francescutti a question.

I'm quite intrigued by your idea of having robust datasets. Are you aware of any other public policy challenge for which a government was concerned about how to deal with something effectively and resorted to using robust datasets?

5:20 p.m.

Professor, School of Public Health, University of Alberta, As an Individual

Dr. Louis Hugo Francescutti

Yes. Canada actually has a very proud record with its CHIRP program, the Canadian hospital injury reporting and prevention program. It's a rather unique program that was instituted in partnership with children's hospitals measuring childhood injury. Canada does have a track record, then, of doing something like that.

The trouble with this one is that this is a field that's changing very rapidly. You have to have multiple datasets that are going to be analyzed, and humans will not be able to do it. You're going to need artificial intelligence. This is an opportunity to partner with IBM Watson, which is in Canada and is looking for projects. Also DeepMind, at the University of Alberta, has just been granted permission to work with the DeepMind folks in the U.K. in solving problems that seem unsolvable.

I would do something, then, using the latest technology, which we're not even talking about, which is artificial intelligence.

5:20 p.m.

Liberal

Ali Ehsassi Liberal Willowdale, ON

Okay.

Are you aware of any other examples in other countries in which they have tackled public policy issues?

5:20 p.m.

Professor, School of Public Health, University of Alberta, As an Individual

Dr. Louis Hugo Francescutti

Yes, the CDC in Atlanta has developed a program called WISQARS. WISQARS is a database that looks at injuries within the United States, broken down by county. It provides a lot of information.

This problem, however, is so unique that you can't design a system on our old way of thinking. You need a new way of thinking, with either DeepMind, or artificial intelligence, or IBM Watson, to solve this problem, because it's going to be very fluid.

Let me just make sure the committee understands. You will not be able to educate your way out of this problem. You're going to spend an enormous amount of money and you're never going to reach the tipping point at which it's going to make a difference. It is going to be similar to Nancy Reagan's “Just Say No” campaign, which makes you feel good but has absolutely no impact whatsoever.

5:20 p.m.

Liberal

Ali Ehsassi Liberal Willowdale, ON

I've noted that this is the second time you have highlighted your misgivings about educational campaigns. Where does that come from, what experience?

5:20 p.m.

Professor, School of Public Health, University of Alberta, As an Individual

Dr. Louis Hugo Francescutti

It comes from the evidence. If we were to do things based on the evidence, education campaigns in public health have usually failed very miserably.

The best example I can give you is from when AIDS first came out in the 1980s. In Australia they came out with a clever campaign of a bowler, who was the Grim Reaper, throwing a bowling ball down a lane and knocking all these people over. What happened was that it had no impact on AIDS, but people stopped bowling.

5:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Housefather

That's pretty scary. Thank you very much, Mr. Ehsassi.

Are there short questions from any members of the panel for any of these witnesses?

If not, I want to thank each and every one of you for having come before us today. It is enormously appreciated.

We're going to take a short recess while we change panels.

5:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Housefather

It is a pleasure to reconvene with our third panel of the day.

I would like to welcome, from the Canadian Society of Forensic Science, Ms. Rachelle Wallage, who is the chair of the drugs and driving committee.

From the Canadian Safe Boating Council, we have Mr. John Gullick, who is the chair and Mr. Michael Vollmer, who is the vice-chair.

By video conference, we should have Professor Barry Watson, who is an adjunct professor in the faculty of health of the Queensland University of Technology, in Brisbane, Australia. Professor Watson is in the process of connecting. He will be the last witness of the panel.

We will start with you, Ms. Wallage. The floor is yours.

5:30 p.m.

Rachelle Wallage Chair, Drugs and Driving Committee, Canadian Society of Forensic Science

Good evening. I want to thank you for this opportunity to speak on behalf of the drugs and driving committee, or DDC, of the Canadian Society of Forensic Science. I will take the time I'm allotted to introduce myself, tell you about the DDC, explain our process and our role, and give some background information, and I hope to clarify any scientific questions regarding the proposed new provisions.

My name is Rachelle Wallage. I'm a forensic toxicologist. I work at the Centre of Forensic Sciences in Toronto, where I have been employed for 17 years.

The Centre of Forensic Sciences is a provincial laboratory that functions both as a coroner's lab and as a crime lab. The predominant role of a forensic toxicologist is to provide expertise on drugs, including alcohol, and interpret concentrations as detected through analysis performed by the toxicology section.

This interpretation of prescription, over-the-counter, and recreational drugs can include concentrations that are subtherapeutic, therapeutic, recreational, toxic, or fatal in the context of many different types of cases, as well as opinions offered regarding impairment. All of these interpretations come with further explanation of what the terminology means or implies, the exceptions to the interpretation, or conditions that make it more or less likely. This frequently culminates in testimony provided to courts or coroner's inquests.

To put into context our court responsibilities, here are some examples.

I have testified five times in one workweek on different cases. I have colleagues who have testified twice in one day in two separate courthouses. Furthermore, it's not unusual to have anywhere from three to five days in a week scheduled for court appearances throughout the province. My shortest testimony I estimate as approximately four minutes, and my longest as four days. Court is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you're going to get.

I fully realize that not all laboratories are this busy, but this is the reality for many of us. With the opioid epidemic that is currently happening, the legalization of cannabis, and the extensive changes being proposed for the Criminal Code of Canada, I would be remiss if I didn't take this opportunity to address the pressure on the laboratories. The lab systems cannot continue to absorb the escalation of submissions for analysis, court appearances, and the need for technical expertise, especially in a time where there is an increased emphasis on timely trials.

Additionally, I am the chair of the drugs and driving committee. The role of the DDC is to advise the Department of Justice on issues related to drug-impaired driving. Obviously this is no easy task, considering the hundreds of impairing drugs that are available, each of which has associated complexities. When it comes to analysis, interpretation, and predictability, alcohol is the exception rather than the rule in its simplicity.

The DDC is comprised of six scientists in the field of drug-impaired driving, predominantly from the forensic laboratory systems across Canada. The DDC is a volunteer committee. We have demanding careers outside of our role on the committee, so our time is limited, and the DDC work generally occurs on weekends, on vacation days, and in any spare time we can muster that would otherwise be well spent decompressing from a hectic workday.

We are a committee comprising individuals from across the country, and in-person meetings generally occur once a year. Funding of this committee is a rate-limiting factor. The Department of Justice provides a grant, which is shared between the Canadian Society of Forensic Science, the alcohol test committee, and the drugs and driving committee. There has been a dramatic increase on the demands for our time and knowledge, and the funding is not sufficient.

The alcohol test committee has 10 members and we are at six, and I would make the argument that we, too, should be at least 10. The concern becomes that if we are 10, the yearly DDC allotment will not be sufficient to cover the cost of travel, accommodation, and meal allowances for everyone for one meeting per year, which I would also argue is insufficient at this time. There are other branches of the government that currently see the value in our expertise, and it's time to re-examine investing in the future of the DDC.

Of particular interest in the last few years has been the use of per se limits for drugs other than alcohol. Some countries and states have moved toward this approach. The DDC was asked to turn our collective expertise to the idea of per se limits or a zero tolerance approach to certain drugs.

This process started years ago, when we formulated a long list of drugs that were of particular concern to the safety of our roads. Research was conducted into each of these drugs, and the feasibility of establishing a limit was assessed. Factors that were considered included the potential for tolerance to develop with regular use; whether the drug was available by prescription, over the counter, or for recreational use; residual concentrations; and the prevalence of use in the population.

From that list, a short list was created. Further research was conducted and discussion occurred. The ultimate report outlines a per se approach for four drugs and a zero tolerance approach for five drugs. The factors that were considered when coming to the ultimate decision included analytical, storage, and stability issues; pharmacological properties; established per se levels elsewhere; the inevitable time delay to sample collection; and a lack of an acceptable back extrapolation formula for drugs other than alcohol.

To briefly explain back extrapolation or calculation, this means that for alcohol, the time between sample collection and incident can be accounted for, and a blood alcohol concentration at the time of the incident can be provided. There is no established formula for any other drug to offer a concentration at the time of the incident; therefore, the concentration detected in the sample, generally reflective of the time of sample collection unless the drug breaks down in the test tube, will be the only available information regarding the level.

There was also a request for the DDC to assess drug screening equipment, namely, oral fluid drug-screening devices. These are devices that can be used to indicate drug use. The DDC is currently looking into screeners that detect THC, cocaine, and methamphetamine. Evaluation standards are an ongoing process. Once they are set, the manufacturers will submit the devices for evaluation. The DDC will then review the data, make the final assessment, and provide recommendations for the drug-screening equipment approval list. Services that choose to purchase these devices will then have to train their officers on their use.

I will now define some terms.

“Impairment” is a decreased ability to perform a certain task, a deviation from the norm, so that if you test an individual in a drug-free state and then dose that individual with a particular drug, impairment would be present in the individual when they demonstrated performance decrements in a particular measurement. This can be differentiated from intoxication, which would be the physical signs of drug administration, such as difficulty with balance and walking.

Impairment is described by the faculties affected by the drug. Examples of such are divided attention, vigilance, reaction time, and decision-making. An individual does not need to be experiencing gross motor incoordination to be deemed impaired. Obviously, an individual experiencing those pronounced drug effects is impaired, but an individual can also be impaired without the overt symptomology.

I would like to thank the members of the DDC for their time, the sharing of their knowledge, and their dedication. I would also like to thank the Centre of Forensic Sciences librarians for their ability to jump into action as soon as I needed yet another publication.

Furthermore, I want to thank my colleagues, as the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Also, it has been a pleasure to work with the Department of Justice counsel and crown attorneys from across Canada, where I've learned that a roomful of lawyers is just as much fun as a roomful of toxicologists.

5:35 p.m.

Voices

Oh, oh!

5:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Housefather

What about a roomful of parliamentarians?

5:40 p.m.

Chair, Drugs and Driving Committee, Canadian Society of Forensic Science

Rachelle Wallage

Yes, the same.

5:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Housefather

Thank you very much, Ms. Wallage.

We're now going to the Canadian Safe Boating Council

I will turn to you, Mr. Gullick and Mr. Vollmer, for your presentation. I believe you have a PowerPoint presentation.

5:40 p.m.

John Gullick Chair, Canadian Safe Boating Council

That's correct.

Thank you very much to the chair and the committee for inviting us to sit before you today. We're now going to take the focus away from our roads to our waterways.

I'm going to take a few minutes to talk a bit about our organization and who we are, so that you have an understanding. We're a national organization. Directors and members come from coast to coast to coast. We have 20 directors, with me and an executive committee. We're run by volunteers. We have no ongoing paid staff and no ongoing government funding support, and we've been established for over 25 years.

Our mission is to reduce the incidence of deaths that occur as a result of boating activities; to cultivate partnerships with government, water safety organizations, and the boating industry; and to partner to provide significant boating safety outreach to various boating communities across Canada.

As for what we do, we offer safe boating campaigns. We conduct research. We have a number of boating safety resources. We carry out cold-water training. We offer the Canadian safe boating awards to recognize the efforts of others. We conduct an annual symposium. We conduct international and government liaisons with organizations such as the U.S. National Safe Boating Council, which would include the International Lifejacket Wear Principles agreement, and also with the national recreational boating advisory council and the Canadian marine advisory council.

I'd like to say in starting that we support the amendments in Bill C-46. We're in strong support of the amendments in the bill, and we also believe that the bill should reflect the consequences of the operation of all modes of transportation while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.

We have a recommended change to the current proposed amendments. In proposed section 320.11 currently, the definition of vessel “includes a hovercraft, but does not include a vessel that is propelled exclusively by means of muscular power” or human power. The Canadian Safe Boating Council's proposed change to the definition of vessel is taken from the Canada Shipping Act, 2001:

vessel means a boat, ship or craft designed, used or capable of being used solely or partly for navigation in, on, through or immediately above water, without regard to method or lack of propulsion, and includes such a vessel that is under construction. It does not include a floating object of a prescribed class.

Really, in simple terms, this is the change we're requesting: the consideration that muscular-powered or human-powered vessels not be excluded under the definition of vessel. In the Canada Shipping Act, just to point this out, some of its objectives are to “protect the health and well-being” of individuals who participate in marine transportation, to “promote safety in marine transportation and recreational boating”, and to “encourage the harmonization of marine practices”.

Here are some statistics from the Canadian Red Cross on recreational and daily living boating immersion deaths by type of craft, by alcohol involvement, for victims of 15 years of age or older in Canada through the 20-year period from 1991 to 2010. The total number of boating deaths is 3,324. The total number of boating deaths with alcohol suspected or involved is 1,066, or 32%. For all powered vessels, it's 611, with alcohol involved or suspected in 18%. For all unpowered vessels—so this would be muscular-powered vessels, human-powered vessels—it's 375, with alcohol involved or suspected in 11%. Then there is the unknown type of vessels at 80, with alcohol involved or suspected in 3%.

According to a 2016 economic impact study by the National Marine Manufacturers Association, the NMMA, about 43% of Canadians, or 12.4 million, go boating each year. There are about 8.6 million boats in use in Canada. About 60% of those boats are human-powered vessels, such as canoes, kayaks, stand-up paddle-boards, etc.

For our conclusion and our recommendation, we at the CSBC believe that the definition of a vessel in Bill C-46 should include all vessels, even those that are exclusively muscle powered, and be consistent with the definition used in the Canada Shipping Act, 2001.

We are encouraged by the preamble of Bill C-46, which states that dangerous and impaired driving “are unacceptable at all times and in all circumstances”. As this is intended to modernize the statute to better reflect current impairment issues, societal changes to boating activities should also be considered.

Incidents involving powered vessels often include other vessels and others in boats. In the case of muscle-powered vessels or human-powered vessels, these incidents also involve the lives of others in the boats, the rescuers, and the consequences experienced by family members and the systems that support them. One just has to look at the statistics to see that we have a very high number of incidents involving alcohol in both powered vessels and muscular- or human-powered vessels.

I offer my thanks and will see if Michael has anything to add.

5:45 p.m.

Michael Vollmer Vice-Chair, Canadian Safe Boating Council

I'd like to give you a graphic example from this spring with respect to human-powered craft and the risks involved.

This occurred on the Muskoka River near Bracebridge. A father and an eight-year-old were out paddling. The father is alleged to have been impaired. The canoe rolled over. The child was swept over high falls and killed...an eight-year-old, sitting in that pointy end of the canoe. The father was charged with impaired operation of a vessel causing death and operating a vessel with blood alcohol of over 80 milligrams causing death. That would be eliminated under the proposed change here.

When you look at 60% of the boats in Canada being these.... As shown in a survey done of some 3,291 cottagers on the Muskoka Lakes, paddle-boards are increasing from 16% of the fleet to 42% of the fleet. These are the stand-up paddle-boards. Kayaks increased by 10% between 2013 and 2017. All you have to do is drive down the street and look at the roofs of cars; they all have canoes, kayaks, and paddle-boards on them.

We have worked very hard as a group at the Safe Boating Council. We run a safe boating awareness week. We generate about 170 million impressions a year for about $300,000, which is an incredible ad buy, and one of our messages is “Don't drink in a boat”. We're going to change that to “Don't drink and don't smoke dope in a boat”. There are all of these things: “Wear your life jackets” and “Take a boating course”.

Fundamentally, we need the law to back up our position, and changing this definition is a very difficult concept, I'm afraid, from our point of view, so please consider this. It's in the law now, it works now, and we need it from the boating community's point of view.

Thank you.

5:45 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Housefather

Thank you very much for your very clear presentation. It's much appreciated.

We are now joined by Professor Watson, straight from Brisbane, I believe.

Thank you so much for joining us. It's a real pleasure to have a true Aussie amongst us. We look forward to hearing your presentation. The floor is yours.

September 25th, 2017 / 5:45 p.m.

Dr. Barry Watson Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Health, Queensland University of Technology, As an Individual

Thank you.

Good morning from Brisbane, Australia. I would like to thank the committee for the opportunity to speak to you today about Australia's approach to reducing alcohol-related road crashes. I hope this will assist you in your deliberations relating to Bill C-46.

Over the last 30 years, there has been a substantial reduction in alcohol-related road fatalities in Australia, as well as a major shift in community attitudes relating to drink driving. Today I would like to give you a brief overview of the various countermeasures that have contributed to these changes.

To set the scene, this graph shows the long-term trend in the percentage of drivers and motorcycle riders killed in Australia with a blood alcohol concentration of .05 grams per 100 millilitres or more, which is the general alcohol limit across the country. As can be seen, Australia experienced a major decline in alcohol-related fatalities during the 1980s and 1990s, similar to many other motorized countries around the world, including Canada. While the number of fatalities plateaued during the early 2000s, there has been a renewed decline since 2008. This long-term reduction in alcohol-related fatalities is one of the major road safety success stories in Australia, and has involved the introduction of a range of countermeasures.

Moving to the next slide, I would like to summarize the evolution of drink driving countermeasures in Australia. This list is not meant to be exhaustive, and I've kept the time frames relatively broad, since the countermeasures were implemented at different times across our states and territories. The foundation for our approach was laid in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when all the states adopted per se drink driving laws. During the 1980s, this approach was strengthened by the lowering of our general alcohol limit from .08 to .05, and by introducing random breath testing, or RBT, and mandatory penalties for drink driving, including licence disqualification for all offenders.

During the 1990s there were further refinements, with the introduction of a zero alcohol limit for learner, provisional, and professional drivers, and ongoing strengthening of penalties. While most states introduced some form of rehabilitation for offenders during the period, it remains voluntary in some states. Since the early 2000s, most of the Australian states have introduced alcohol ignition interlocks and vehicle impoundment for high-range and/or repeat offenders.

To illustrate the impact of these countermeasures, I would like to present a case study from my home state of Queensland. We commenced breath testing in the late 1960s, and moved to a .05 alcohol limit in 1982. However, we delayed introducing random breath testing, despite its widespread adoption in other states, due to the perceived civil liberty concerns on the part of the then Queensland state government. Instead, the government introduced a weaker form of breath testing in 1996, called “reduce impaired driving”, or RID. This program was similar to the sobriety checkpoints currently relied on in many countries. The police could randomly pull over drivers, but could only breath test those they suspected of drinking. Finally, after mounting pressure from road safety advocates and encouraging evaluations from other states, the Queensland government introduced full-blown random breath testing in 1988, which enabled the police to pull over drivers at any time or place and request a breath test. These changes were each supported by the strengthening of penalties and extensive public education.

To illustrate the effects of these initiatives, this graph compares alcohol-related fatalities in the time periods following the introduction of each of the key countermeasures. As can be seen, the introduction of the .05 limit, RID, and random breath testing were all associated with stepwise reductions in the number of alcohol-related driver and rider fatalities, all of which were significant and consistent with other evaluations. The data indicated that the introduction of .05 was associated with a 12% decline in alcohol-related fatalities, while the introduction of random breath testing was associated with a further 18% decline in fatalities over and above what was the case when the sobriety checkpoint program was in place.

The next slide leads me to tell you a little bit more about random breath testing, since it is the primary drink driving law enforcement tool used throughout Australia. As already mentioned, the legislation underpinning random breath testing allows the police to pull over and breath test drivers at any time, irrespective of whether or not they suspect that they've been drinking. The majority of RBT operations across Australia are conducted in a highly visible stationary mode, using either large buses, colloquially known as “booze buses”, or marked police cars. While these operations are designed to catch drink drivers, the key goal is to promote general deterrence through their highly visible nature.

Over the years, RBT has been supported by extensive mass media advertising, and various evaluations have confirmed that it has produced long-term reductions in alcohol-related crashes. Importantly, there is also very strong community support for RBT, with a recent survey showing 98% approval nationally for the countermeasure.

Here are some photos of different types of RBT operations. In the top left, you can see a booze bus parked on the side of the road. Depending on the traffic volumes, the police will either pull over every driver that passes by or randomly select vehicles from the traffic stream to administer a preliminary breath test. This process is relatively quick, with drivers only detained for a minute or two. However, if the driver fails the preliminary breath test, that driver is then required to undertake an evidentiary test in the bus.

On the right and bottom left are examples of car-based RBT operations. In this mode, drivers who fail the preliminary breath test are transported to a police station to undertake the evidentiary breath test.

As already noted, considerable police resources are devoted to RBT, with many states conducting the equivalent of one breath test per licensed driver every year. In a state like Queensland, where we have over three million drivers, that means over three million breath tests are performed each year.

As a result, exposure to RBT has steadily increased over time and now is very high across the country. As shown in this graph, around 80% of drivers surveyed nationally now report having seen RBT in the last six months. More particularly, over one-third of those surveyed report having actually been breath tested in the last six months.

To conclude, over the last 30 years, Australia has experienced a major decline in drink driving fatalities. However, challenges remain. Alcohol remains a significant factor in around 20% of our driver and rider fatalities. Recidivist drink drivers remain a concern, as they are overrepresented in offences and crashes. The uptake of alcohol ignition interlocks and rehabilitation programs remains relatively low in some states.

Lastly, as will be explained further in a later session by another of my Australian colleagues, Assistant Commissioner Doug Fryer, all the Australian states and territories have now introduced random roadside drug testing based on the RBT model. This has inevitably created competition for scarce police resources, and it highlights the need to strike a balance between the amount of testing performed to detect alcohol versus other drugs. Given that research continues to show drink driving as being riskier than drug driving alone, it is essential that current breath testing levels are not compromised in order to conduct more roadside drug tests.

5:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Housefather

Thank you very much, Professor Watson. It is much appreciated.

Since you can't see us, I'll let you know that now you and the different panel members will be getting questions from each of the different parties on the committee.

We are going to start with Mr. Cooper.

Mr Cooper, the floor is yours.