Bernie Rankin believes chain of responsibility law should extend to drug use.

Top Cop Says: Extend Chain of Responsibility to Drugs

Bernie Rankin believes chain of responsibility law should extend to drug use.

Bernie Rankin believes chain of responsibility law should extend to drug use. Image source:

With the chain of responsibility laws currently under review with possible reform on the cards and the development of primary duties which focus on safety, Senior Victorian Police Officer Bernie Rankin is calling for the reforms to include provisions on drug use.

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Bernie Rankin believes chain of responsibility law should extend to drug use as the problem spreads among truck drivers.

Rankin says policy makers should extend chain of responsibility (COR) to drugs in order to reduce the use of illicit substances by truck drivers.

Detective inspector Bernie Rankin, the head of Victoria Police’s transport investigations unit, said in an interview with Owner/Driver that greater focus should be placed on the effectiveness of workplace drug testing regimes. He explained that some truck drivers are constantly testing positive to drugs.

He said that in addition to extending COR to vehicle maintenance, policy makers should also be considering extending it to drugs. He explained:

“My view is that chain of responsibility should certainly extend to vehicle maintenance and I think now’s probably a good time to look at it.

“Should it extend to drug testing regimes if a company can be demonstrated to show that they’ve had a number of drivers detected positive to illicit substances?”


If policy makers consider Rankin’s proposal, it will result in transport companies in the supply chain needing to show that they take the necessary steps to ensure drivers don’t use drugs to do their jobs.

He explained:

“I think if we can look at a situation where we identify some behaviours in a particular transport company, well perhaps it should extend that far,” Rankin says of COR.

“In the last couple of years we’ve had a number of companies that have had more than two drivers test positive in a short period of time, so that would always cause us alarm. Is there an individual in those companies who is sharing these products with their workmates?”


According to Rankin the growing problem of drug use among truck drivers is well documented with one in 14 drivers testing positive for drugs in roadside tests over the past 3 years. As he explained, that number is significant enough to indicate a problem.

At present, Chain of responsibility laws apply to speed, fatigue and vehicle mass and dimension in most jurisdictions, with transport ministers recently agreeing to add vehicle maintenance to COR provisions. Rankin believes COR will help us combat drug use among truck drivers by addressing the source of the problem, however he also placed the onus on truckies to take responsibility for drug use, and recognise the risks they are placing road users in by taking drugs and driving.

“At the end of the day the issue is for the individual driver. He’s just got to understand he can’t take those substances and any nonsense he’s heard that they help him stay awake or improve his ability to drive is just absolute nonsense,” he says.

“I can line up any number of medical experts who will tell you what the real impact is of people taking illicit substances and getting behind the wheel.”