The introduction of roadside drug testing will be a milestone moment in New Zealand’s road safety history, says the AA.
The Government has today announced that Police will be given new powers to test for drug impaired drivers, including using saliva-based testing devices as they do in Australia and many other countries. Last year 95 people died in crashes where a driver had drugs in their system.
“Drugged driving has been a hidden killer on our roads for many years and the introduction of roadside testing devices will not only be welcomed by the vast majority of drivers but also many of the families that have lost loved ones because of a drug impaired driver,” says AA road safety spokesperson Dylan Thomsen.
“We simply haven’t been doing enough to stop people who are impaired by drugs from getting behind the wheel and putting lives at risk. Knowing that they will be able to be tested and caught is going to send a much stronger message to not drive if you are impaired by drugs.
“The AA congratulates the Government on taking action on this critical road safety issue.”
In 16 surveys of random samples of AA Members since 2015, 95% have supported introducing saliva-based roadside testing for drugged driving.
The AA is pleased that the testing devices will include some potentially impairing medications as well as recreational drugs and also that work will be done to improve the warnings and information given to people taking certain medicines about their potential impact on their driving.
Requiring an initial positive result to be confirmed by additional testing to make sure that someone definitely has drugs in their system is a sensible safeguard and it is also reasonable to establish thresholds for drugs in a similar way to alcohol, so that drivers detected at lower levels will face a short driving ban, fine and demerit points while those at higher levels face a criminal charge.
“Drugged driving is a much more complex area than drunk driving because of the range of substances involved and more variation in the way drugs can affect impairment but the Government has come up with a well-balanced approach which, when implemented, will make our roads safer.”
For more information contact:
Road Safety Spokesperson
New Zealand Automobile Association
M: 027 703 9935
E: [email protected]