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Coroner supports random roadside drug testing

Nick Smith - MP for Nelson

28 June 2019

The Government must act on the strong support for roadside drug testing in the findings of a Coroner’s report into the tragic Waverley crash that killed seven people, Nelson MP Nick Smith says.

In paragraph 33 of Coroner Tim Scott’s findings, he says: “I have noticed that there is a ‘groundswell’ of opinion to support such testing and I add my voice (here) in support of such random roadside drug testing.”

“The coroner’s findings must shake the Government out of its complacency over drug-impaired driving. The Coroner explicitly identifies cannabis as the cause of this horrific crash and adds to the groundswell of public support for random roadside drug testing,” Dr Smith says.

“The findings add weight to Matthew’s Petition calling for the urgent introduction of random roadside drug testing. It was started by Karen Dow whose son Matthew was killed by a drugged-driver in Nelson. The families of the Waverley victims joined with Karen to push for change.

“Random roadside drug testing could have prevented this horrific Waverley crash and these seven tragic deaths. The driver had incurred a number of demerit points in recent years, showing he was being pulled over by police, and we know from his partner that he was a regular cannabis user.

“This crash in June 2018 was particularly horrific, but every week people are being killed by drug-impaired drivers. Fatalities from crashes involving drug-impaired drivers have increased from 14 to more than 70 in the past four years.

“This Government has a blind spot when it comes to addressing this serious road safety problem because of its broader policy to liberalise access to recreational cannabis.

“The Government erred 18 months ago by not picking up the comprehensive recommendations from Police and Transport officials for introducing random roadside drug testing. Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter was wrong to say she was ‘unimpressed’ by the recommendations, and that saliva testing was ‘too intrusive’. The Government also made a mistake by voting down and blocking National’s bills to get testing introduced.

“The Government’s recent discussion document on drug-impaired drivers is hugely watered down from what was proposed by officials, and is more focused on the problems of introducing random roadside drug testing than the positives.

“With submissions on the discussion document closing today, the anniversary of this horrific Waverley crash and this potent Coroner’s report, the Government has no excuses for not getting on urgently with implementing roadside drug testing.”

ends

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