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

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.

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

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

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.

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



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1 NEWS' Corin Dann dissects Jacinda Ardern's historic protest-free speech at Waitangi

The Prime Minister was welcomed to Waitangi with a typically powerful powhiri today. 

Unlike previous years, there were no protests to go with it.

This year organisers stripped the official welcome away from the lower marae where it was dogged by controversy.

The change of venue wasn't the only thing that changed this year, Jacinda Ardern was also given the honour of being the first female to speak on the National marae.

Ms Ardern says "I want to be able to tell my child that I earnt the right to stand and you can tell me when I've done that."

She promised to reduce the inequalities for Maori and to be held account if she failed.

One factor that helped the smooth running of the day is that several Senior Government Ministers have links to the local iwi Nga Puhi.

Including Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters who says, "this has been the best Waitangi in forty years." 

Organisers this year stripped the official welcome away from the lower marae where it was dogged by controversy. Source: 1 NEWS