8 Sep 2011

Call for tougher drug-driving measures rejected

3:14 pm on 8 September 2011

The Government says it will not be introducing further drug driving measures.

The road side impairment test regime introduced in 2009 is coming under fire, following a Massey University report which shows that heavy drug users are driving drugged.

The Illicit Drug Monitoring System report by the university's School of Public Health interviewed 411 users. It shows 88% of methamphetamine users, 86% of intravenous drug users and 53% of ecstasy users admitted driving while on drugs.

The findings echo statistics from 2004 to 2009 - a period when half of the drivers killed in crashes had consumed alcohol or drugs, or both.

The Automobile Association says the current testing regime, which saw about 417 people undergo an impairment test in the first 18 months, is not catching offenders.

The association, along with the Green Party and Road Transport Forum, is calling for road side saliva testing.

The AA wants all political parties to pledge to introduce the regime, which will finally get the message across to people that it is not alright to drive under the influence of drugs.

But Transport Minister Steven Joyce says the Government is focused on impairment testing, rather than saliva tests, because it better targets the risk and covers a wider range of drugs.

Mr Joyce says the Government will continue to review saliva based testing as the technology further develops.

The Campaign Against Drugs on Roads says research proves an Australian method is much more effective than the regime in place in New Zealand.

Ministry of Transport figures show 129 people died in crashes in the past six years where drugs other than alcohol were identified as a contributing factor.

An ESR study conducted between 2004 to 2009 also shows 240 of about 1000 deceased drivers used more than one potentially impairing drug.

Road Transport Forum chief executive Ken Shirley also says the current system is not effective enough and saliva testing is needed.