Random roadside drug testing must be urgently introduced

By May 14, 2019 Recent News

Stuff co.nz 14 May 2019
Family First Comment: Well said Mike Yardley… 
“The drug liberalisation lobby cannot ignore the inconvenient truth that drug impairment is now a bigger killer than alcohol-impairment on our roads. The latest available fatality data-set compiled by government agencies, and widely circulated by the Automobile Association, indicates that in 2017, drug-impaired driving cost 79 lives, compared to 70 deaths caused by drink-drivers… I remain firmly unconvinced that legalising cannabis for recreational use is in New Zealand’s interest. I have no problem with expanding drug addictions services, so long as the provider has a proven record in effectiveness, but legalisation will throw more fuel on the fire. More self-inflicted addiction, more wasted lives, when our mental health system is already bursting at the seams.”

OPINION: I received an email recently from a heartbroken North Canterbury couple, grieving the death of their son, who died at the hands of a cannabis-impaired driver.

Their family tragedy spurred them to sign the Matthew Dow petition, which his mother, Karen, presented to Parliament last week. The Dow petition calls for New Zealand to urgently introduce random roadside drug testing, replicating the saliva-based technology that has been widely deployed across the Western world.

Last week’s coronial inquiry into one of New Zealand’s worst mass-fatality road crashes has also highlighted the scourge of drug-impaired driving. It’s been revealed the driver responsible for the horror two-car crash that killed seven people in Waverly, Taranaki, had repeatedly consumed synthetic drugs before he got behind the wheel. Family victims from that catastrophe have also joined the crusade for drug testing.

The drug liberalisation lobby cannot ignore the inconvenient truth that drug impairment is now a bigger killer than alcohol-impairment on our roads. The latest available fatality data-set compiled by government agencies, and widely circulated by the Automobile Association, indicates that in 2017, drug-impaired driving cost 79 lives, compared to 70 deaths caused by drink-drivers.

The Dow petition is calling for the introduction of saliva tests on drugs to complement breath-testing for alcohol. It is conspicuous that in 2017 there were only 200 convictions for drug-impaired driving, compared with 16,000 for drink-driving.

The current cognitive impairment test, relied upon by police, is infrequently exercised and is best consigned to the 1950s. The current Police Minister, Stuart Nash, while in opposition, relentlessly hounded National about failing to introduce roadside driver drug-testing.
READ MORE: https://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/opinion/112674482/random-roadside-drug-testing-must-be-urgently-introduced

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