CANNABIS

Drug driving research continuing

Friday 24 August 2012, 4:25PM
By Simon Bridges
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Research commissioned by the Ministry of Transport is increasing understanding of the issues involved in combatting drugged driving in New Zealand, says Associate Minister of Transport Simon Bridges.

“The drug driving law is working well and helping to take impaired drivers off the road. However, continuing research is essential. A study released today has shown there are areas where we need to be vigilant, such as drivers detected with alcohol and cannabis in their system who were deemed to have caused a crash.”

International research has shown that the combination of alcohol and cannabis has greater adverse effects than if either drug is used on its own. NZTA will use the research to assist with future development of drug-driving awareness campaigns.

“Also of concern are issues around drivers using methadone. While those on a prescribed stable methadone dosage for treatment should be safe to drive, problems can arise if it is mixed with other impairing drugs, including alcohol.”

The research will be given to the Police for their consideration. In addition, a working group of transport officials and health providers has been set up to find practical ways of reducing any road safety risk posed by prescribed methadone clients.

“Although we must remain vigilant to drugged driving, we know that the current law is having an impact. The review I released in May showed that nearly 500 impaired drivers — 95 per cent of those asked for a blood specimen — had tested positive for at least one drug since the regime began in November 2009.

“Drugged driving has also been the focus of a recent education campaign and officials will continue to monitor research and overseas experience for any new developments to help combat this problem.”

Section 209A of the Transport Act 1998 allows blood specimens to be analysed for research purposes related to alcohol and drugs.

The Drug Research report can be found on the Ministry of Transport website: http://www.transport.govt.nz/research/othertransportresearch/Documents/Drug-Research-Report-2012.pdf