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Government and Greens testy over drugs

Candor Press release Contact Urs or Rachael (04 5650 200) 027 424 6362

Government and Greens testy over drugs

The Campaign Against Drugs on Roads Group has received feedback from Members around the country about last Wednesday's announcement. Though what is proposed regarding driver drug testing needs a major overhaul to work, many Members are overjoyed on one count.

That 'invisible impaired driving victims' whether injured or slain may soon have
hope for offenses to be properly detected, acknowledged and processed. Of course only half of those victims will be able to access Justice though.

As drug drivers like Nicole Ritchie often abuse a small select group of prescription drugs for the high. And it will not apparently be an offense to drive impaired on these here.

'Police Minister King must be lauded for her clearly acknowledging that serious
injustices do matter. Regardless of whether too fine a point can be put on DUI
drug offense or victim numbers as yet'.

But Candor Trust Members are concerned the Police Minister inadvertently misled
people about risk, by citing a silly season figure of suspected drug involvement
in only 4% of fatal collisions.

'She based her assertion on a mostly incomplete set of primary data provided by
Officers attending crashes. They don't generally test crashing drivers yet, as she did admit' notes Candor's Rachael Ford.

The Candor Trust which was conferred expert status by ACC when a joint program
was undertaken has estimated that drugs are a major factor in 25-30% of fatal
crashes, which puts the drug hazard just a nose ahead of alcohol. In some areas
drug driving may motors ahead.

Trust Workers wonder if Labour may still begrudge acting on this issue due to
the mixed messages. 'We can't think why an MP who should know better would drop such pseudoscientific litter as this 4% figure which has many of our Members
feeling literally downsized. Unless Labour oddly intends undermining it's own Bill,' comments Field Educator Ursula.

'It saddens us a lot how the Greens have seen fit to seize upon this obvious
misinformation trotted out by Police Minister King, and so opportunistically tried to present it as fact. In order to thoughtlessly push a valid bandwagon, the need for civil rights to be honored so far as testing goes'.

'As in advocating for this did they really need to go an extra mile and assist Labour to discount the urgency of driver drug testing. Which is very reasonably proposed just for suspect drivers right now. A lower blood alcohol limit isn't where the greatest gains can be made for lowering the toll - all evidence says cleaning up the drugs on road is the number one issue'.

'People can deny it for whatever reasons they might personally or politically have, but at the end of the day it's the truth', says Candor Co-ordinator Ms Ford.

One Government has been at pains to hide for various unholy reasons. For example, after the first ESR drug driving study in the 90's experts recommended drug testing all deceased drivers ongoing. Has it happened? No.

Turei claims the accident statistics don't support the need to give Police drug
testing powers. And that reportedly, drug use was proven to be involved in only
three crashes during 2005. She'd be more correct to say many drug addicts would
be found if questioned to have had 2 or 3 unnoticed drug crashes each in 2005.

Turei might also consider how many drink driving deaths were recorded at the
crash scene by Police in the 1950's as the issue was emerging. And naturally we
can not depend on Police to be our only authority and source of information.

There are no rights without life and drug drivers are upon many alternate indicators available than flawed Police crash statistics removing that of up to
70 innocents and 70 of themselves each year.

Candor workers who sit in the Green camp say they'd hoped Turei as the Greens
alcohol and drug spokesperson, would take more interest in an emerging major
issue, than to just take so called Police statistics at face value - then dismiss away.

For any Political Party to be shallow and close minded about the drug driving
bloodbath, and not show some respect and interest is tantamount to walking on
graves of the large numbers to die tragically as a result of stoned driving or drivers.

And particularly of those whose true death story has been covered up by lack of
testing. It's also thoughtlessly walking the graves of Tupuna to come who need not find their way to an early grave if we all got real, say Candor.

'It's important to publicly admit the problem, because Ostriches run the risk of
becoming roadkill. At community sessions we run people freely admit that
everywhere has a drug driving problem. It's ill informed the Greens stance'.

'Road crash is undoubtedly the major cause of unintended drug related death in
New Zealand today and we're deeply disgusted at the lies going round about the
issue and the fact such a serious matter is being used as a political football'.

An ongoing major ESR drug driving study that's covered 300 deceased drivers
already shows near 50% had used cannabis in the prior 24 hours. Abused controlled medicines (no prescription held) were implicated in 16% of accident deaths and ESR found "P" use in only 4% of drivers. BZP party pills in 0.5% were very under represented.

A major shift from drink driving to drug diving is as evident in NZ as elsewhere
the last decade, when todays statistics are compared with results of an earlier
ESR study. Which goes to show checkpoints have not reduced deaths from mpaired driving as much as is commonly credited.

Take marijuana as one 'risk drug' case in point. Of 404 deceased NZ drivers
tested in 1995-97, roughly half of todays figure, just 22% had used cannabis prior to crashing. 2/3rd of these had used some alcohol too. A total of 27% had then used alcohol alone prior to their crash (as against 14% today).

Annette King seems worryingly deprived of relevant statistics or a reasonable
analysis of indicators scoping the problem, say Candor. Particularly for someone
involved in relegislating. Yet these are available if some digging is done. Candor well knows the prior Transport Minister was not oblivious to drug drivings significance.

Paul Swain clearly indicated to one Member raising concerns with him well over a
year ago, impacts likely exceeded those of drink driving. 'It's at a level near drink driving' said Candors Co-ordinator, prior to the Trust having established it's own ballpark estimates via statistical analysis. 'And the rest' exclaimed the Hon.Paul Swain - a horrified look sweeping over his features.

Then again, Labour may feel it's politically astute to minimise not quantify NZ's major unaddressed road safety issue at this time. As then a substandard plan of attack (if that happens) can't be evaluated in the Public eye later on.

The Aussies messed up somewhat by info sharing with their Public. As Victoria's
drug toll has now been increased by the introduction of a flawed flop of a testing regime. New Zealand needs to learn from their mistakes.

Candor wishes to thank all those who have so generously donated to our cause and to assure them that several misquotes in the media of late did not reflect
Candors position. It has never been said that illicit drugs are not risky to drive on nor has it been said that everyone will go on methadone if illicits are targeted.


Ends

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