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AA awaits Government action on drugged driving

6 September 2018

The AA is calling on the Government to urgently progress its own actions to get drugged drivers off our roads.

The Private Members Bill from MP Alastair Scott to introduce random roadside saliva testing for drugs appears set to be voted down after its first reading in Parliament last night but the AA was heartened by the comments of Transport Minister Phil Twyford that the Government has work underway to produce its own measures to reduce drugged driving.

"The AA could not agree more with the Minister's comments that drug impairment on our roads is a serious threat to life and limb for New Zealanders," says AA Motoring Affairs General Manager Mike Noon.

"We had hoped this bill may have advanced to the Select Committee stage so that some of the questions around the issue could be properly investigated there but the Government appears to be in the process of developing their own solution to the drugged driving problem.

"The AA has been calling for action on drugged driving since 2011 and we urge the Government to announce its plan of action as quickly as possible."

Figures released to the AA from New Zealand's official crash analysis system showed 79 of the drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2017 were subsequently found to have drugs in their system - with cannabis and P being the most common individual substances.

Surveys of AA Members over the last three years show 95% support for introducing a saliva-based test to detect drugged driving.

"A growing number of countries around the world like Australia, the UK and Canada have introduced roadside saliva-screening tests to catch and deter drugged drivers so it is possible to do this if the will is there," says Mike.

"When the Ministry of Transport analysed this issue in 2016 they recommended introducing a targeted saliva-based testing regime that would cost about $9m annually and deliver an estimated $8 in savings from reduced crashes for every $1 spent.

"The sad truth is that the 'walk and turn' test that the Police currently use to check for drug impairment is not an effective tool for catching or deterring the people that are heading out onto our roads while high. That is why we only see hundreds of drug tests done a year compared to millions of tests for alcohol. We have to do more than the current approach."

Ends

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