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Drug driving protectorate for pill poppers

Candor Trust Contact R Ford (04) 5650 200 027 424 6362

Drug driving protectorate for pill and vein poppers.

Candor Members are reeling over the Government's plan to only test drivers for 'illicit substances' considering this very strategy has increased Victoria's road toll.

'We're also worried the Police Minister inadvertently misleads people about their risks, by citing a fictional figure of 'suspected' drug involvement in only 4% of fatal crashes - per the 'a cop smelt a rat but was only ever guessing' test. 'Bobbyology'.

Much hard evidence puts the true NZ figure closer to 30%. And spreading such a nonsense about could instill complacency in the many Kiwis with drug problems who need to consider driving risk. If Government or Ministers genuinely labour under the misconception drug driving is no big toll factor, they must have blinked and missed several major local studies.

'We'd also be intrigued to discover Labours explanation for why the Bill is not setting out to address the problem usefully. What on earth could have caused the irrational call to exclude controlled drugs. 16% of road deaths here are likely caused by addicts high on black-market prescription drugs, one's who've no valid prescription for the last ever pill or hit to their name'.

'It's time for our Cabinet Ministers and Health Policy Advisors to declare any conflicts of interest they may have, as Candor wishes for transparency among other movers and shakers, regarding this issue'.

'And most importantly we'd like an end to the intrigue around why the proposed testing regime is so obviously set up on many points to fail from the start' asks Candor. The only things they got right were mandatory testing at incidents where suspicion is raised and an impairment orientation. The devil though roams freely in the misguided details.

Labour's policy statement made after pre policy consultations includes this stinger; 'It will not be strictly or specifically be illegal to drive while impaired by methadone' - or per the proposed legislation all other drugs that profit Pharmaceutical Corps.

European and U.S. tourists are not bound to find this loophole amusing, as their Transport laws dealing with prescription drug abusers driving are (in proportion to risk) generally harsher than those seeking to control illicit drug drivers.

The 1998 Land Transport Act makes it an offence to drive 'or attempt to drive a motor vehicle on a road while under the influence of drink or a drug or both, to such an extent as to be incapable of having proper control of the vehicle'. A Police report explains the words 'incapable of proper control' sets a high threshold so only extremely impaired (licit) druggies run any risk of conviction.

This unwieldy standard will continue to apply to prescribed drug abusers per the new Bill – despite they're by far the worst road menaces per a mountain of research.

So charging the most harmful of drug drivers will remain an unviable option. Careless driving charges will continue to be the 'cop out' default setting and it's off to the court ordered driving school for our highest risk future killers, just as is the problem today.

Candor believe Police with Road Safety at heart must be as upset as the Road Victims Lobby. It's not long ago Police commissioned a report, from Transport Research Laboratory (UK), which said 'It is not the legal status of the substance that is the road safety issue, but the level of impairment that it causes.'

TRL further advised that Government is better to include all drugs in the law rather than trying to amend it to cover just illicits. Has this report perhaps been misfiled?

Targeting only the 2 or 3 illicit risk drugs and not the 2 licit ones with a new Bill is a more fatal error than Cabinet realises. Prior to random testing for illicits Victoria's drug related toll was on a par with New Zealand's - 31% of dead drivers drugged. But this rose to 40% in 2005 after roadside testing for illicits was introduced.

'It was a foreseeable flop - I mean, if you told alcoholics you'd only arrest them for drinking beer (less impairing licit drugs) on the road... but would let them slip through uncharged if on the topshelf equivalent ie licit drugs gobbled like candy, then what? Hardcore addicts would just change their choice of poison', says Candor's Rachael Ford.

They are the people we need to worry about. Medical drug users as opposed to abusers are not over represented in tolls. It's lack of treatment for addicts due to mass closure of rehabs dramatically upping New Zealand's drug toll, as against that of 1995. Far more than recreational drug use per all available findings.

Previously 'crash prone' recovering narcotic addicts interviewed this week broadly support Candor's educated standpoint regarding trend aetiology. And advised fear of arrest causes injecting of illicitly possessed prescription drugs before driving.

It's absolutely essential to cover all bases or else tweaking of the law will be a trainwreck – one that will see an estimated extra 12 of Kiwis entering our yearly the drug related toll. Half measures are no use at all and excellent alternate tests and legal frameworks are being successfully used elsewhere.

Why must we ape aspects of ideas failed elsewhere? The Governments wishy washy explanations depend upon pumping up myths & do quite completely fail to contend with the deliberately ignored most salient facts.

ends

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