Drug, seatbelt link in crashes

Road Safety Commission Acting Commissioner Kim Papalia said there was a correlation between people who were killed or seriously injured on the roads and those with illicit drugs in their system at the time of the accident.

�We have seen that 23 per cent of those injured or killed have registered with illicit substances in their system in the past two years and we are concerned that this is leading to an increase in avoidable fatalities on the road,� he said.

�Law was enacted in WA in 1971 to make it illegal not to wear a seatbelt and in the past two years we have seen high-risk behaviour by people in cars and also in drug use.

�Generally, the risk-taking behaviour goes together (with drug taking).�

Acting Police Traffic Superintendent Ian Clarke said the rise in the number of people on the roads not wearing seatbelts was causing great concern to traffic police.

�We are seeing a marked increase across the state (of people wearing no restraints) and we will come down very hard on those not taking responsibility,� he said.

�There is no excuse and we are continually disappointed with the people who are not seeing the need to wear them.�

Figures for this year alone showed there were 20 people dead already and a further 22 with catastrophic injuries where lack of seatbelts was a causal or contributing factor.

Supt Clarke said August would be used by police in cars and on unmarked bikes to clamp down and fine people not wearing seatbelts, especially in country areas.

�This will be happening across the State because we are seeing so many catastrophic injuries and preventable fatal crashes,� he said.

Police would also be using long-range cameras that could film up to 700m away.

Fines range from $550 and four demerit points to $900 for those failing to comply.

Supt Clarke said that in the past five years, more than 70 per cent of people killed or seriously injured while not wearing seatbelts were males and more than one-third of them were children.