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AA supports Government’s focus on drink drivers

AA supports Government’s focus on repeat and serious drink drivers

The AA is pleased the Government is focussing on repeat and serious drink drivers, who are the people who cause the greatest amount of alcohol-related road trauma.

In a statement made over the weekend, Transport Minister Steven Joyce highlighted Ministry of Transport figures that show 72% of drink driving deaths in 2009 were caused by people who had either been caught drink driving before or were well over the current 0.08 blood alcohol limit.

General Manager Motoring Affairs Mike Noon says that the most effective way of reducing drink driving deaths and injuries will be to focus on the areas where the greatest harm is occurring.

“The AA believes that the first priority must be to get the very impaired drivers off our roads.

“The Ministry of Transport figures show that of the drivers who were all well over the limit, 57% were more than double the current limit (i.e. 0.16 blood alcohol or more). The figures also show that at least one in every four of the drivers involved in these fatal crashes had been caught drink driving before,” says Mr Noon.

Ministry of Transport analysis has found that drivers who are double the current limit are over 200 times more likely to crash.

“If we can stop hard core drink drivers, then we will be making real gains in reducing drink driving carnage on the roads.

“Simply lowering the current blood alcohol limit is not going to fix New Zealand’s drink driving problem because these people are already blatantly ignoring the higher current limit, so we don’t see why they would respect or comply with a lower one,” says Mr Noon.

The AA is pleased that the Government is introducing legislation that will subject repeat drink drivers to a zero blood alcohol limit and alcohol interlocks, which prevent serious drink driver offenders from starting their car if there is any alcohol on their breath.

However, the AA believes the legislation falls short on alcohol addiction assessment and treatment and so will not be as effective as it could be in treating these drivers to ensure they don’t offend again.

The Association believes a portion of drink driving fines revenue should be dedicated to alcohol and drug assessment and treatment services.

“If we do not invest in treatment, we cannot expect changes in behaviour and addiction to happen,” says Mr Noon.

“Some countries have established courts specifically to deal with alcohol and drug related issues. We think it is time for these courts in New Zealand and to be successful these courts will need well-funded treatment and support programmes.”

The AA is also concerned that there is not enough being done to address the problem of drugged driving.

“Drugs cannot be ignored when considering impaired driving in New Zealand. The AA would like to have roadside drug saliva testing introduced as happens in some Australian states including Victoria on which much of our road safety policy and policing is based,” says Mr Noon.

Ends

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