Blood alcohol limits
A Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of 0.02 applies to:
- Drivers of vehicles of "gross vehicle mass" greater than 13.9 tonnes.
- Drivers of vehicles carrying dangerous goods.
- Drivers of public vehicles such as taxi or bus drivers.
A BAC of 0.02 can be reached after the consumption of only one standard drink (a middy of beer, a nip of spirits or a small glass of wine). This means that drivers subject to a 0.02 limit must not consume any alcohol before driving.
Drugs and driving
Some truck and bus drivers use prescription, over the counter and illegal drugs to combat fatigue. The danger for you as a driver if you take drugs is that it’s difficult to predict and judge how the drug will affect your driving until it’s too late. There is no quick fix for fatigue.
The only true way to combat fatigue is to ensure you get enough sleep before and during your trip.
Drugs affect the normal way that your body and mind work. They not only affect your physical skills such as reaction times, co-ordination and vehicle control, but also affect your mood, perception, information processing and risk taking behaviour. Quite simply, your driving will suffer and your chance of having an accident will greatly increase.
Drugs affect people differently
How a drug will affect you depends on a range of factors. This includes the drug itself (type, amount, purity and method of use) as well as your weight, body size and health. Other factors such as your surroundings and work situation will also affect how your body reacts. Whatever drug is used, it is important that you know how it affects you and the harm it can do to you.
There are generally two types of drugs heavy vehicle drivers use:
- Stimulants - to try and stay awake.
- Depressants - to assist in trying to get to sleep.
The law and penalties for drug driving
In NSW, it is against the law to drive a car, motorcycle and/or a heavy vehicle while under the influence of drugs. Apart from illegal drugs, this also includes some over the counter medications and prescribed medications.
If you are found to be driving under the influence of drugs, you may be fined up to $2,200, be imprisoned for up to 9 months and be automatically disqualified from driving for 12 months for a first offence. The penalties increase progressively for second and subsequent offences.
Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2000
"An employer must ensure the health, safety and welfare at work of all the employees of the employer."
An employer who encourages a driver to take drugs could be in breach of the Act. For first offence, the maximum penalty is $550,000 and for a second and subsequent offence, the maximum penalty is $825,000.
You can report your employer to Roads and Maritime Services (replacing Roads and Traffic Authority), WorkCover, NSW Police or your union tf your employer is:
- Setting rosters where you have to drive longer than legal hours and you do not have the minimum breaks.
- Encouraging you to take drugs.
If a complaint is made to WorkCover about an employer who encourages a driver to take drugs, the complainant can request to keep their identity anonymous.
- Roads and Maritime Services (replacing Roads and Traffic Authority): 13 22 13.
- WorkCover NSW: 13 10 50.
- NSW Police: contact your local police station.
- Transport Workers Union (TWU): (02) 9912 0700.
NSW Transport Workers’ Helpline
The NSW Department of Health has funded a 12-month pilot project of the new transport workers Helpline 1300driver that commenced 1 July 2010.
Based at the Alcohol and Drug Information Service (ADIS), St Vincent’s Hospital, the Helpline will provide transport workers with assistance 24-hours/7days to reduce the harms of smoking, alcohol and other drug use associated with stress and depression.
“Your room” website
The "Your room" website is a joint project of NSW Health and the Alcohol and Drug Information Service that aims to deliver online drug and alcohol information to the people of NSW including: A to Z of drugs; helplines and treatment options; campaigns and online resource ordering; community action contacts and an interactive game.