Family of Christchurch man killed by drug driver launches petition calling for roadside tests

The Government could be bringing in new roadside drug-driving tests, with the public getting to have their say on the issue in the new year, Police Minister Stuart Nash told 1 NEWS.

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Previous governments have repeatedly turned down the idea. Source: 1 NEWS

In 2017, 79 people died in road accidents involving drugs - killing more on our roads than alcohol for the first time.

Among them was Christchurch man Matthew Dow, whose life was taken last New Year's Eve by a woman who got behind the wheel after using methamphetamine.

Matthew Dow, pictured with a dog. Source: Supplied

His mother, Karen Dow, described him as a "gentle soul who "had such a good sense of justice and respect for people and all living things".

"To be taken so cruelly - it's just such a loss," Ms Dow said.

The Dow family visited the crash site on SH60 just out of Nelson today. They're marking the anniversary of his death with the launch of a petition, calling for random or saliva roadside drug testing for drivers.

A cross with flowers marking the crash site. Source: 1 NEWS

The petition has been supported by Nelson MP Dr Nick Smith, who says they are aiming "to get hundreds, if not thousands of signatures from New Zealanders who are aiming to make the roads safer".

In the past, both National and Labour have been reluctant to introduce random roadside drug testing, which is seen as unreliable and too slow.

"Our view is that the technology is at a stage where police can reliably introduce drug driving tests to New Zealand," Dr Smith said.

The Police Minister said it's a matter of getting the details right.

"There's a discussion document that's been approved by Cabinet that's going to go out to the public early next year, that's early 2019 around the issue," Mr Nash said.

Police are already carrying out roadside testing for drugs, which involves an impairment test and, failing that, giving a blood sample.

However, Mr Nash said it's no longer enough.

Matthew Dow. Source: Supplied

"I would like us to use technology in a way that empowers the police to go a lot harder than they currently can at the moment," he said.

Recently retired Senior Sergeant Terry Richards, who was in charge of highway patrol in Nelson for 15 years, said suspects have slipped through his fingers.

"If the person of authority talks to somebody who has had drugs, they then seem to snap around and act quite rationally and without any problems at all," Mr Richards said.

The Dows hope the year ahead will bring meaningful change.

The petition will close on May 8, the day Matthew would've celebrated his 25th birthday.