Family First NZ is welcoming a law giving police extra powers to test suspected drugged drivers, and to take blood specimens to establish the extent of the drug-driving problem in NZ.
“Based on international experience, the extent of the drug-driving problem is far greater than has been acknowledged,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ, who made a submission to the Transport Select Committee.
“The research in New Zealand shows that from 2004 to 2006, driver alcohol and drugs were a factor in almost 1/3’rd of fatal crashes (both legal and illegal drugs), almost 20% of serious injury crashes and over 10% of minor injury crashes.”
NZ researcher Professor Ferguson found that youth were far more likely to drive drugged than drunk over a five year period, and consequently were twice as likely to have crashed under the influence of drugs than alcohol.
In Victoria the introduction of drug testing law in 2003 helped their toll drop in two years from 450 to 346. Scandinavian countries drug test and have low road tolls. In Malaysia, drug testing of motorcyclists in 2006 dropped the daily toll from 17 to 11 fatalities. And a 2 year campaign in Durham (U.K.) saw a reduction from 50% of dead young male drivers being on drugs, to none.
“We are glad that the committee has not accepted the Green party argument that this law is a ‘back-door way of prosecuting drug offences’. It is a pragmatic approach to law enforcement on a very serious issue. The community is desparate for a strong message and action in this area,” says Mr McCoskrie.
“Any attempt to reduce the road toll and horrific injuries from road accidents, and the accompanying stress and grief that families go through, is appreciated. Families should not be put in danger because the law fails to effectively deal with the risks associated with a person driving under the influence of the effects of drugs. This proposed law will address some of these concerns.”