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The introduction of roadside drug testing is critical given the escalating road toll and the Government’s liberalization of drug laws, Nelson MP Nick Smith says.

Dr Smith received ‘Mathew’s petition’ on Parliament’s steps today. The petition from Karen Dow seeks the urgent introduction of random roadside saliva testing for drug impairment.

“I commend Karen Dow on her brave advocacy in memory of her son Matthew who would be celebrating his 25th birthday today were it not for the reckless actions of a drugged driver.”

Matthew Dow was killed in a head-on crash on the Appleby straight of State Highway 60, near Richmond, on December 31, 2017. The driver of the car that hit him, Alicia Fulcher-Poole, had been smoking meth and cannabis, and was seen driving recklessly prior to the crash.

Karen Dow launched Matthew’s petition at the site of the crash on the first anniversary of her son’s death last year.

“New Zealand urgently needs to introduce roadside drug testing to address the increasing road toll and to protect motorists from the effects of the Government’s reforms that allow easier access to drugs,” Dr Smith says.

“The current law and enforcement for drug-impaired drivers is ineffective and weak, compared to that for drunk driving. In 2017, drug-impaired driving is cost 79 lives, compared to the 70 deaths caused by drunk drivers, yet there were only 200 convictions for drug-impaired driving compared to more than 16,000 for drunk driving.”

“This petition rightly seeks the introduction of random roadside saliva tests for drugs on the same basis as breath testing for alcohol. These saliva tests are working successfully in Australia, the UK and Canada, and are urgently needed here.”

“The Government’s position on roadside drug testing is compromised and confused. The Minister in charge of road safety, Julie Anne Genter, is opposed because of her Green Party’s liberal approach to drugs.

“Police Minister Stuart Nash has promised action but is yet to deliver on the promise he made to TVNZ at the petition’s launch last year that a discussion document on the issue had been approved by Cabinet and would go out to the public in early 2019.

“National wants roadside drug testing introduced as quickly as possible. We will be supporting Matthew’s petition. My National colleague, Wairarapa MP Alastair Scott, has also relodged his Members Bill to get progress. The Bill was voted down by the Labour, Greens and NZ First parties last October. The Government again blocked the Bill’s introduction today when I sought leave to introduce it following Question Time.

“It was highly unusual for the Speaker to intervene and block the introduction of National’s Bill on roadside drug testing. It was normal for the Speaker to put such leave to the House.

“The Speaker had no business in blocking the introduction of the Bill that would have made out roads safer, particularly with the Government liberalising access to drugs. It is worse that he has named me and removed me from doing my job.”

“National will do everything possible to address this serious problem, and get drug-impaired drivers off our roads.”

 

A statement from Karen Dow

Petition request wording: 

That the House of Representatives urgently pass legislation to introduce random roadside drug testing to reduce the escalating road toll from drugged drivers, which resulted in 79 fatal crashes in 2017 and exceeds the number caused by those impaired by alcohol.

Link to the petition launch story (TVNZ)

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