'A hidden killer' - Roadside drug tests could be on the way for Kiwi drivers

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1 NEWS

Kiwi motorists could soon be getting pulled over for roadside drug tests, with the Government currently investigating whether police should have access to saliva swab kits.

The Government is investigating whether police should have saliva swab kits to nab drugged NZ drivers.
Source: 1 NEWS

In Australia, random drug tests are carried out at alcohol checkpoints.

The results are shocking, with one in 54 drivers testing positive for drugs, and it has emergency doctors here wanting New Zealand Police to follow suit.

"We want clean, sober drivers on the road. You know, you're driving a tonne of metal and it's more deadly than any sort of weapon we have in New Zealand," said Dr Paul Quigley, and emergency medicine specialist.

Police Minister Stuart Nash is now investigating roadside drug tests.

"We're looking at this very closely. And I think if the technology exists and it can be done in a way that is robust, we're almost under a moral obligation to do so," Mr Nash said.

"The cost is incredibly high but we do need to do a lot more work around this to understand the consequences."

The AA calls it a hidden killer"
Dylan Thompson of the Automobile Association

There's only ever been one study into drug driving in New Zealand and it estimates that 35 per cent of drivers who die on our roads have some type of drug in their system.

"The AA calls it a hidden killer," said Dylan Thompson of the Automobile Association.

In 2016, police in the Australian state of Victoria caught 8700 drug-drivers. That compares to just 405 in all of New Zealand, where there is no roadside saliva testing.

Police here have to rely on what's known as the compulsory impairment test, asking a suspected drug-driver to walk in a straight line, stand on one leg and have their eyes checked.

"And as long as they're under the limit and can look reasonably straight and together for a minute they're probably going to be able to carry on driving," Mr Thompson said. 

Police did not want to talk about any change in legislation or whether the current system works.

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