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NZ Road Survival Arbiters Asinine


NZ Road Survival Arbiters Asinine

Candor Trust

The UK, the United States and Australia have all launched elegant well designed Christmas drink and drugged driving campaigns. However New Zealand, with it's high order DUI crash problem still lacks provision of imperative life-saving education and urgent relegislation to address drink drivings partner in crime. A situation tirelessly lamented by the Candor Trust.

Press coverage of the issue indicates persistence with 1980's vintage type sole drink driving campaigns. Police issued taglines like "It's a real no brainer, alcohol and driving don't mix," now resound like Christmas past. These consistent lies of omission constitute taxpayer funded acts of intellectual theft, thuggery and terrorism, and are guaranteed to miss half the target audience, the Candor Trust warns.

In recent years, the over-represented age groups in NZ's driver road toll have featured alcohol or drugs in their blood 96% of the time (Waikato Masters thesis - THC and culpability). The same astounding percentages likely apply to crash survivors who've killed innocent victims.

The most useful, inspired and relevant anti impairment campaign of 2007 was actually run by an NGO, the Sensible Sentencing Trust (Crossroads Division). It forthrightly dealt with the big local issues - both drink and drugs, rather than offering a nutritionally incomplete diet of risk info.

Contrast the local situation to road safety savvy places, says Trust Educator Ed Radley. The Washington Post has just confirmed that a 2.5 percent decrease in deaths from 2006 to 2007 came as traffic injuries and crashes related to drugs and alcohol fell. Officials say the improvement resulted from a more vigilant effort with impaired driving campaigns. Brainily December is National Drunk and Drugged Driving month, in the United States.

The Met Police are warning London drivers who've half the risk of dying while driving about the dangers of drink and drug driving as they launch their Christmas road safety campaign. It supports THINK, the national anti-drink and drug driving campaign, by the Association of Chief Police Officers and the Transport Department. The message is "endanger others by driving drunk or drugged, and you will be busted". Now that's thoughtful.

Australian police meanwhile are also proving themselves present in the current century, as they close in on reckless drivers with Operation RAID - Remove All Impaired Drivers - and with Operation Aegis, which focuses on drink and drug-driving and speed. Now that's not slow.

But NZ - recently christened the land of the pot cloud (The Press - 06/12/2008) has no D & D driving month, has no Think campaign and has no RAID or Aegis equivalent. It's road safety initiatives are either experimental or retarded by Global standards. Choked by the pot cloud atop the recidivist boozer problem, NZ again heads for a tragic road toll 25% above targets. Now there's a cruel idea.

Lives and families rescued over Christmas would beat tax breaks anytime - and the blanket ban on drug driving awareness at Spin Dr Stations around the Country must be lifted before measurable progress is even a prospect. John, Dick, Harry, Jacky, Leslie, Andy and newcomer Steven Joyce must all put a stop to the delayed reactions, and jump aboard the drug driving train. Or be left far behind, while communities are damned to bury yet more loved ones for Xmas.

Is it remotely feasible the gaggle of eccentric Government Departments, with drug driving blood on their officious mitts, could yet show some Christmas Spirit? These passive entities should have summonsed the decency long before 2008 after all, to make Kiwis recipients of the same Christmas present offered to other Nationals; a current issues based festive road safety campaign.

The UN's European Road Safety Observatory states there is large concern over
drink driving decreasing much faster than the number of crashes that involve drink drivers. Saying at first sight this seems strange, but the explanation may be that drink driving has indeed decreased, but the number of drivers that drive while being intoxicated by both alcohol and illegal drugs has increased.

Mandatory alcohol testing introduced in Ireland in 2006 produced some surprise results. Provisional analysis of breath tests from the EBT machines found that larger numbers of detections are been made at the lower levels. (Research Department, RSA 2008). But a continuing high road toll led to correspondence from the MBRS to the Transport in 2008 saying that consideration will have to be taken of the ever increasing levels of zero which could be an indicator of drug or polydrug (alcohol/drug) use.
In Japan in 2002, the legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit for driving was lowered to 0.03 mg/ml with a statistically significant decrease in the number of legally defined alcohol-impaired drivers on the road. Again there was no corresponding reduction in the road toll.

In response to the hidden killer of drugs being substituted for alcohol whenever the reins are pulled tighter in Kingpin alcohol limit policies, the European Road Safety Observatory is emphasising that in combination with drugs, even small quantities of alcohol (quantities below the legal limit) can deteriorate one's driving skills enormously.

It has proposed 4 new "Safety Performance Indicators" for international impaired driving prevention, and comparisons.

1. Mandatory blood tests for deceased drivers for a set of psychoactive drugs (5-6 bad offenders are recommended)
2. Ditto above for all involved, drivers surviving fatal crashes, or use of saliva drug test option alongside alcohol breath testing
3. The same mandatory tests for all active road users involved in fatal accidents
4. Eventual extension of the above problem locating measures to target severe injury crashes, starting with drivers, but progressing to all active road users.

Law changes effective 1 July 2008 in South Australia took an initial step towards meeting the required brief. From that date all drivers and riders who present at a hospital as a result of a motor vehicle crash and are required to have a blood sample taken will be tested for both alcohol and traffic risk drugs.

New Zealands Land Transport Amendment Act Bill number 4 enables fully comprehensive testing of deceased drivers blood. But it was penned many moons ago and clearly needs more rigorous data gathering provisions to comply with best global standards.

Candor Trust encourages the Government to move forward with passing this bill under the "breath of relief" 100 day urgency plan. It being but one of over dozen security enhancing law and order bills that the previous caretaker Government allowed to stagnate. They must also rush to lift the gagging orders that previously placed on Officials and its own Spin Drs around publicising drug driving risk. It is the time now to put saving lives ahead of garnering "drug user rights" based votes.

ENDS

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