No time to waste in starting roadside drug testing

21 May 2024

No time to waste in starting roadside drug testing

Giving Police the ability to use roadside drug testing devices will fix a gap in New Zealand’s road safety strategy that has been exposed for too long, the AA says.

Transport Minister Simeon Brown on Monday evening announced the Government would introduce legislation enabling roadside drug testing by the end of the year at the Road Safety Week launch event in Wellington. 

Drugs are a contributing factor in a significant number of New Zealand road deaths each year and AA road safety spokesperson Dylan Thomsen says the government needs to work as quickly as possible to allow drug testing at the roadside.

“These tests are proven and have been use in Australia and Europe for years – it’s astonishing that New Zealand has taken so long to get onboard with international best practice.”

New Zealand Transport Agency Waka Kotahi figures show out of 374 total road deaths in 2022, there were 218 where drugs and/or alcohol (both over and under the legal limit) were detected in a driver. Drugs were involved in 112 of those deaths.  

“With drugs involved in so much harm on New Zealand roads, it is ridiculous testing has taken so long to be introduced. Victoria in Australia introduced drug testing 20 years ago.”

The tests will be an important deterrent to those thinking about getting behind the wheel while under the influence, and a safety net to catch impaired drivers before they are able to harm themselves and others, Dylan says.

“Far too many people are still willing to risk lives by driving after taking drugs or drinking alcohol. Right now people are dying because they don’t think they are going to get caught,” Dylan says.



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