Improving the safety of all road users is the focus of a new public consultation document on the issue of drug driver testing.
Plans for public consultation on options to improve the drug driver testing process have been announced by Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter and Minister of Police Stuart Nash.
Julie Anne Genter said: “While drug drivers already face serious criminal penalties if caught, the current law makes it hard for Police to carry out higher numbers of tests that could deter drug driving.
“And unlike with alcohol testing, drug testing comes with some unique challenges, which is why we want expert and public input into the design process. For example, unlike alcohol breath tests, drug tests can only detect the presence of drugs or medication. They cannot test if a driver is impaired.
“We know the public wants to be involved in the development of legislation that will impact them. Consultation will ensure changes to the current system incorporate the needs and wishes of New Zealanders.
“A considered approach to developing enhanced drug driver testing will mean we can develop a robust testing system that’s grounded in evidence and best practice. We need to do this thoughtfully,” says Julie Anne Genter.
“Irrespective of whether someone is impaired by alcohol, medication or recreational drugs, they shouldn’t be behind the wheel,” says Stuart Nash.
“Last year, 71 people were killed in crashes where a driver was found to have drugs or medication in their system which may have impaired their driving. That compares to 109 deaths where a driver was found to have alcohol in their system.
“We need to do more to stop dangerous drivers getting behind the wheel and enforcement on our roads is a key part of this. However Police cannot do this on their own. Every one of us must challenge dangerous driving behaviours when we see them,” Mr Nash said.
Consultation will take place over the next six weeks, concluding on Friday 28 June. The Government will be looking to confirm its options at the end of this year.
The Government is looking for feedback on:
- the methods that could be used to screen and test for drugs
- the circumstances in which a driver should be tested
- what drugs should be tested for
- how an offence for drug driving should be dealt with by Police.
The consultation document is attached. Further details will be available on the Ministry of Transport website.
Police Minister Stuart Nash says calling a cop suddenly got a whole lot easier with the launch of a ground-breaking new service for non-emergency calls.
“The single non-emergency number ‘ten-five’ is designed to provide better service for the public and to take pressure off the iconic 111 phone number,” Mr Nash says.
“Police receive more than two million calls a year. Almost 900,000 are to the 111 service. There are around 1.2 million non-emergency calls to other Police numbers.
“Just 20 percent of 111 calls result in an emergency response, known as priority one. Another 20 per cent are priority two. This means at least sixty per cent of calls to the 111 number could be better dealt with on other channels. Some involve complaints about parking or noise or cheeky children.
“Calls to 111 should be limited to cases where an emergency is happening now or just happened and there’s a threat to life or property. If it’s already happened and there’s no immediate danger, call 105.
“We hope the introduction of the three-digit ‘ten-five’ number will make it easier for callers to get in touch with the right part of the Police service for the right reasons.
“There are many other ways people can get help with community safety and crime prevention. The *555 number is for urgent road issues. There are online forms, the anonymous CrimeStoppers 0800 line and the 1737 mental health support line.
“The police workforce has never been larger, and earlier this year passed a record high number of 13,000 frontline officers and support staff. It is a crucial part of the Coalition Government’s efforts to improve the wellbeing of communities.
“The new non-emergency number ‘ten-five’ now makes it so much easier to get the right help from these extra Police,” says Mr Nash.
More information is available at: 105.police.govt.nz.