Heather du Plessis-Allan: Government must accept drug driving is a problem

Author
Heather du Plessis-Allan ,
Publish Date
Wed, 15 May 2019, 5:17PM
Victoria has been testing drugs for years, and so should New Zealand, Heather writes. (Photo / Getty)

Heather du Plessis-Allan: Government must accept drug driving is a problem

Author
Heather du Plessis-Allan ,
Publish Date
Wed, 15 May 2019, 5:17PM

We’ve been talking about drug driving a bit in the past week and it looks like the government’s been forced into showing that it’s doing something here.

Today, they put out a discussion document on drug driving. Obviously, it took Nick Smith getting kicked out of parliament last week over this for this to see the light of day. And of course means we’re months away from making any final decisions, and even longer away from seeing something like a drugs version of the booze bus out on the streets.

But at least it’s better than what we’ve been doing up to now, which is pretending that drug driving is not a problem.

It is a problem. More people died on the roads last year with drugs in their system than people who died drink driving. People are getting behind the wheel stoned and high, and they’re doing it because they don’t think they’ll get caught.

And they probably won’t get caught, because in one year police may be checking as few as 500 drivers for drugs. That’s 10 a week, across the whole country. Most drug drivers will be getting away with it scot free.

This is why you have to introduce roadside testing. It may be expensive and intrusive and still somewhat inaccurate, but you have to deter people, you have to be seen to be out there with a drugs bus so that people don’t want to get behind the wheel.

There are plenty of arguments against drug testing. The cost of it, the intrusion, but I don’t care about that - surely saving lives is more important.

And the most consistent argument you hear against drug testing is that it’s inaccurate. That a test will pick up a joint that was smoked two weeks ago. That’s just bollocks.

In Victoria, they use saliva tests that pick up drug use within the last six to six hours. I don’t know about you, but if someone’s smoked within the last six hour I don’t think they should be behind the wheel.

In Victoria they do half a million saliva tests a year and they’ve been doing it for 15 years, so let’s get on with it!

What worries me though is the Government motivation. If it took an opposition MP’s ejection from parliament to force some action, then I’m not sure how far this will go.

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