18 Oct Rejection of drug driving testing a blow for victims
Two organisations that support road crash victims say they’re disappointed a plan to test for drug driving has been scrapped and denied the chance for a public debate.
Victim Support and Brake, the road safety charity, are calling on the Government to urgently develop an alternative plan for addressing the issue of drug driving to help save lives.
Yesterday Parliament, at first reading, rejected National MP Alastair Scott’s Members Bill enabling police officers to perform random roadside drug testing on any driver suspected of driving under the influence of drugs.
“While we acknowledge the challenges in drug testing and potential flaws in the Bill, victims have been denied the chance for it to be taken to Select Committee,” said Victim Support General Manager Karen McLeay.
“We’ve lost the opportunity for policy makers to further investigate how roadside testing could work and whether it would have an impact on road deaths and injuries”, said Ms McLeay.
Caroline Perry, Brake’s New Zealand director, said drug driving was a huge problem on our roads and we urgently needed more measures to address it.
She said roadside saliva testing was used overseas in countries like Australia and the United Kingdom to initially test drivers suspected of being under the influence of drugs, which could then be followed up by a blood or urine test.
“This type of testing could help to take drug drivers off our roads and reduce deaths and injuries,” said Ms Perry.
“Since this Bill has been rejected, we urgently need to see alternative plans for tackling drug driving.”
The organisations were also calling for victims of crashes to be heard and said the decision to reject the Bill would be a blow to drug driving victims and their families.
“Part of making an informed decision at a policy-making level is listening to the voices of those impacted by decisions,” said Ms McLeay.
“In this case, the voices of victims who have been injured or whose loved ones have been killed by drug drivers have not been heard.
“As organisations that support bereaved and injured families, we see the devastating consequences of crashes,” said Ms McLeay.
“Anybody who has been affected by the devastation of drug driving will tell you that one death is too many and will ask how many more families need to be ripped apart before change occurs.”
In the 2017/18 financial year Victim Support supported 2347 people following fatal motor vehicle crashes, and more than 1000 who were injured in vehicle collisions.