Re­jec­tion of drug driv­ing test­ing a blow for vic­tims

Te Awamutu Courier - - Driven -

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.

At the first read­ing Par­lia­ment 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 Karen.

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 Caro­line.

“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 Karen.

“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 Karen.

“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.” I

n 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.

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