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Drug Harm Cost Estimates Deceptive

Drug Harm Cost Estimates Deceptive Media Release - Candor Trust

Governments’ social cost estimates of drug harm in 2006 grossly underestimate the contribution to traffic crash costs. In stating the socal costs of related crashes are $53 million Jim Anderton and Co. are undershooting by at least 800%.

The true figure, when based upon the strongest harm indicator - the numbers of deceased drivers found to be crashing due to prior illicit drug use in a Police / ESR study, exceeds even the total cost estimate of $400 million for all drug related crime, in 2006.

The source of the Governments gargantuam error is that drug crash cost estimates were based upon grossly incorrect primary data regarding the drug factor as sourced from the Ministry of Transport, rather than more reliable harderr data the Polices ESR study "Control of drink and drugged drivers".

The ridiculous social cost estimates just disseminated are founded on MoT’s demonstrably cloud cuckooland figures of only 3.8% of road fatalities being contributed to by drug intoxication.

The primary data source for these dreamy MoT statistics is Police Traffic Crash Reports filled at the roadside where guesswork often occurs regarding crash factors and the drug factor is acknowledged as grossly under reported.

Sometimes initial guesswork findings are supplemented by annotation of known criminal prosecutions for drug driving, if investigating Officers are highly conscientious.

These info sources which inform the Crash Analysis System and thereafter MoT statistics are acknowledged by any savvy researcher as useless for scoping drug involvement for these reasons; 1. Non collection of data. The forms have no checkbox or prompt for a suspected drug factor (though this may soon change), and most Officers are untrained in detecting it 2. Grossly incomplete primary data collection where it does occur. Under 5% of drivers involved in fatal crashes are investigated / tested for drug impairment as part of criminal or Police fatal crash investigations versus over 70% of drivers being checked out for alcohol (Source - Michelle De La Coeur - Police test processor). 3. Police currently lack power to compel drug impairment testing, which is why their submission to select committee states;

"Officers trained in field testing currently conduct few tests due to the fact that the test must be undertaken voluntarily. Obviously, few drivers affected by drugs will voluntarily expose themselves to the potential for prosecution. Consequently Officers seldom ask suspected drug impaired drivers to take it". Candor is aghast that social cost estimates for drug crashes would be based on such an unreliable and misleading source as the Ministry of Transport "statistics". Especially given that accurate sources of real harm would be frely accessible to researchers.

It would appear Government is being deliberately deceptive again - despite Annette King being caught out on "Close Up" looking shepish as she attempted to push the silly MoT figures for drug driving casualties late last year.

As exposed on that program the Police ESR study of blood contents of over 70% of deceased drivers (obviously a more universal set) for recent years including 2006 are freely available. These show a greater involvement of recently used risky illicit drugs in fatalities than of alcohol at illicit levels in New Zealand today. The vast majority of drug takers were culpable and not drunk.

The Government is clearly guilty of attempts to minimise drug driving harm, at a time it has a remarkably toothless drug driving bill before the Transport Select Committee.

It appears to have co-opted the NZ Drug Foundation into taking a strong stance against the major hope for trauma reduction - roadside saliva testing. And done so out of a criminal reluctance to tackle a major safety problem, lest the 20% of voters using cannabis sometimes rethinks it’s voting priorities.

The creation of a climate of minimisation and tolerance for a road toll factor which nearly matches alcohol harm in under 40’s, and probably exceeds it in teens is pure evil.

Drug concerned Organisations like NZFDF and the Expert Advisory Committee on Drugs, if professing themselves to be professional and evidence based need to take a hard look at their motives in promoting the same kind of denial, issue avoidance and ignorance that abounded around the drink driving issue - 30 years ago.

But first Government must set an honest platform for policy debate by immediately retracting it’s erroneous claim that drug crashes cause only 53 million dollars of harm yearly, and own up to the true extent of the problem.

The Government needs to get real about the true cost of drug crashes - which it is well aware are a leading source of drug related social costs and on road victimisation.

Road Safety can not continue to be founded on 1970’s type intelligence, and Candor Trust will seek to have the social cost paper, which has negative implicatyions for future road safety and drug policy corrected.


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