Tim Dower: Labour should be supporting National's drug-driving policy

Author
Tim Dower,
Section
Opinion,
Publish Date
Thursday, 6 September 2018, 7:04AM
There were 79 fatal crashes last year which involved a driver with drugs in their system. Photo \ Getty Images

I smell a rat.

Parliament was adjourned last night before a vote could be taken on a National member's bill, which would have brought in roadside drug testing.

You're probably aware the latest road death figures show a steady increase in the number of fatalities.

But not only that, there's been an increase in the number of accidents where at least one of the drivers has drugs in their system.

In fact, drug driving plays a part in more fatal crashes than drink driving does.

There were 79 fatal crashes last year which involved a driver with drugs in their system.

Alcohol was a factor in 70 fatal crashes.

So obviously alcohol is a major danger, but the AA says drugged driving is the silent killer on our roads, and has been for years.

Right now the AA says the chance of a drugged driver actually being caught is and I quote "tiny". Cannabis and P are the main substances apparently.

And the AA has been pleading for random roadside drugs testing.

P is being detected a lot more these days, but there are other drugs and even prescription medications which impair driving.

Road safety man Dylan Thomsen says the system we have now is not effective for detecting, catching people with drugs in their system.

Saliva-based tests should be used.

Right now, police need to have strong cause to suspect drug use, and then they can take the driver to a police station for a 'walk-and-turn' test.

So, the police want to be able to test for drugs at the side of the road, as they can for booze. And I believe they should have this ability.

National's bill would have allowed for instant saliva tests.

Labour's reason for not backing it is that it doesn't think the testing kits are very accurate.

Why would Labour be against something like this?

Surely a government's main job, its primary responsibility, is to protect the safety and well-being of law-abiding people.

Resisting something that could reduce the number of crashes taking the lives of innocent people on our road just makes no sense.

And I can't see how you can in all conscience stand in the way of this without coming up with something better.

Do you smell that rat too?

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