‘Little Hard Evidence’ That Cannabis Was Implicated In Six Of Nine Fatal Road Crashes
Outspoken road safety campaigner Clive Matthew-Wilson has queried suggestions by Coroner David Robinson that cannabis was implicated in six of nine fatal road crashes.
“In fact, there is little concrete evidence that cannabis was a significant factor in any these fatalities.”
Matthew-Wilson, who has campaigned for safer cars and roads over 25 years, says:
“The example Coroner Robinson gave was of Thomas Jacob Goodman, 29, who crashed while driving home from a work gathering on the night of November 29 last year. Goodman was found to be almost five times the legal drink-drive limit. He also tested positive for cannabis and its constituent element tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).”
“Goodman was drunk out of his brain. He would probably have crashed anyway. Also, you have to be very careful implying Goodman was stoned on cannabis as well. In fact, cannabis testing is notoriously vague. All the tests on Goodman’s body show is that he’d consumed cannabis at some stage recently. It may not have actually affected his driving on the fatal night at all.”
“In all the examples of possible cannabis-related road deaths given by the coroner, tests merely showed the presence of cannabis in the dead people’s bloodstream. That’s not the same as saying they were blotto on cannabis. In fact, tests for cannabinoids will pick up anything consumed in the last month, so it's possible that none of those who were killed had consumed cannabis within days of the crash.”
Matthew-Wilson adds that, while tests can show the presence of cannabis, these tests cannot reliability say a person was affected significantly.
"That’s quite different to tests for alcohol, which can reliably say a person was drunk and that their driving would have been affected.”
Matthew-Wilson, who edits the car review website dogandlemon.com, says cannabis is one of several recreational drugs that tend to react badly with alcohol.
“It’s common in rural communities for cannabis and alcohol to be consumed together. But a stoned driver who hasn’t consumed alcohol is probably far less of a threat to road safety than an drunk driver who hasn’t smoked cannabis.”
Matthew-Wilson believes that alcohol is still the country’s number one drug problem.
Matthew-Wilson believes the government should heavily limit the commercialisation of alcohol and require drink drivers to undergo therapy.
“You’re not going to cure every alcoholic by making them attend a course. But studies globally have shown a modest improvement in outcomes when offenders are forced to attend therapy.”