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Low Road Toll No Comfort for Victims

Low Road Toll No Comfort for Victims

The record low road death toll for 2006 is no comfort to the hundreds of people killed and thousands injured for life. Nor does it reduce the grief and trauma for their families, says the Sensible Sentencing Trust.

The Trust’s spokesperson on impaired driving, Megan McPherson, says the 2006 result is nothing to be proud of. In fact, it is time for New Zealand to get much tougher on killer drivers. She says that at present there is little incentive for recidivist drunk and drugged drivers to change their sociopathic behaviour.

“New Zealand’s impaired driving laws are almost Third world. We are one of the few countries in the Western World that continually returns drivers’ licences to repeat offenders. No impaired driver should have their licence returned a third time, yet there are repeat offenders on our roads today who have been given their licences back at least 12 times,” says Ms McPherson.

“Our soft law gives these ticking time bombs a license to kill. New Zealand’s sentences are far more lenient than in Australia, the UK and the US.

“We suggest changes to New Zealand law including a “three strikes and you’re out” life-time ban for repeat impaired drivers, enforceable manslaughter with a motor vehicle legislation, and the introduction of more innovative measures such as compulsory use of ignition interlock devices for repeat offenders.

“Over one-third of drunk driver are hard-core repeat offenders,” says Ms McPherson.

“These offenders are resistant to changing their habitual drink and drugged driving and don’t care about the devastation they cause. The Government needs to get the message that New Zealanders do not want to share the roads with these potential killers. It is time to replace the current toothless law with more effective, life-saving measures.”

“It is of little wonder that the drink and drugged driving rate is increasing,” she says.

“There is no deterrent when the tax payer pays ACC to drivers who kill and injure innocent people. Instead they should pay for their own murderous behaviour. In many ways the current law helps drunk drivers more than their victims,” says Ms McPherson.

In 2005 drunk driving contributed to 100 fatal crashes and 390 serious injury crashes. Drink driving crashes cost the nation about $660 million a year.

In 2006 about 30,000 people were charged with drunk driving, the figure is increasing around 1000 a year.


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