Drugged driving decision another blow to road safety - AA

6 March 2023

Drugged driving decision another blow to road safety - AA

The AA is shocked and frustrated at the news that roadside drug testing like is used in other countries will not be introduced in New Zealand as planned.

After years of debate and consideration, the Government passed legislation last year to introduce a new roadside drug testing regime in 2023 that would bring in saliva-based roadside drug testing as part of that.

Since then Police have been undertaking a process to find a testing device to use but it was announced last week that an appropriate device could not be found.

“Not introducing roadside drug testing this year is a terrible move for road safety,” says AA Road Safety spokesperson Dylan Thomsen.

“So much work had been done to come up with a system that would catch and deter drugged drivers and the AA is extremely disappointed at this news.

“Since 2017 there have been close to 100 deaths each year involving a driver or rider with drugs in their system and we have to take action to stop this.”

The announcement about the move says that “an appropriate device could not be found” to introduce saliva testing as planned and that advice on the next steps for random roadside drug testing is being worked on for Ministers.

“The AA is at a loss as to how Australia and many countries in Europe are using these devices in their enforcement but we can’t make it work in New Zealand,” says Dylan.

“The Police will continue to have the ability to use a physical walk-and-turn impairment test but they take a long time and are seldom used.

“The fact that the current testing regime was not a realistic and workable option on the roadside was one of the reasons why we needed to introduce new tools for Police officers to catch impaired drivers.

“The AA is calling on the Government to quickly come up with a different way to introduce a roadside drug testing approach that will allow substantial numbers of drivers to be tested and get those who are driving high to fear that they could get caught.

“Failing to introduce some sort of meaningful increase in drugged driving enforcement would be one more target missed in the Road To Zero road safety strategy.

For more information contact:

Dylan Thomsen
Road safety spokesperson
New Zealand Automobile Association
M. 027 703 9935
E. dthomsen@aa.co.nz

The New Zealand Automobile Association is an incorporated society with more than 1.8 million Members. It represents the interests of road users who collectively pay more than $2 billion in taxes each year through fuels excise, road user charges and GST.

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