Page 2434 - Week 08 - Thursday, 6 June 2013

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Here in the ACT we are doing much better than most of the world. But there is no room for complacency. Last year, four pedestrians, one cyclist, three motorcyclists and three motor vehicle drivers were killed on ACT roads. As well as the costs to the community, each of those lost lives is a tragedy.

According to ACT Policing, impaired driving is the primary contributing factor to serious and fatal crashes in the territory. It is a factor in about 30 per cent of all serious motor vehicle collisions, and implicated therefore in the tragic injury and death resulting from those collisions. Alcohol was a factor in almost 50 per cent of the fatal crashes in the ACT between 2007 and 2009. It is clear that drink-driving is a crime that seriously endangers the safety of the impaired driver as well as the safety of the wider community.

On this issue I would like to refer to the comments made by the ACT Victims of Crime Commissioner, Mr John Hinchey, who was one of the stakeholders the Greens spoke with about the proposed alcohol interlock scheme. Mr Hinchey wrote that he supported the scheme, noting that:

… drink driving has far reaching and detrimental effects on the community. The criminal consequences of drink driving can be life changing for offenders, their friends and family. For the innocent community members who are injured by a drink driver the consequences can be severe. This may include financial, psychological and physical difficulties, not to mention the terrible consequences of fatal injuries caused by drink driving.

Drink-driving recidivism remains an issue for about 30 per cent of drink-driving offenders. It is an area in which the government can and should take action for the safety of the community and hopefully also to improve the treatment and therapeutic outcomes for the offenders.

Alcohol interlocks are now widely used around Australia and around the world as a response to drink-driving. Some of these schemes are very mature and have operated for over 20 years. We can look at these schemes, as well as at the considerable research done on interlocks and on recidivism, in order to establish best practice principles for an interlock scheme in the ACT.

One of the essential best practices is to complement an interlock program with education, counselling and regular assessments. Including a rehabilitative component with an interlock program is essential to changing a drink-driver’s behaviour in the long term. It is not sufficient to treat interlocks as a stand-alone solution to drink-driving.

The most thorough and recent analysis of the effectiveness of ignition interlock programs on recidivism rates of drink-drivers was done by the Cochrane Collaboration, which is an international and highly respected research group focused on the efficacy of health care. The review concluded that alcohol ignition interlocks can be effective at stopping repeat drink-driving offences, but only while they remain fitted. The evidence is not clear that the devices stop repeat offending once they are

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