New South Wales has introduced roadside drug testing and have successfully prosecuted their first case for driving under the influence of cannabis. These saliva tests can detect THC, ecstasy, metamphetamines and in the future will include cocaine and heroin.
Some interesting facts are that 31% of drivers killed in NSW the previous year had tested positive to drugs other than alcohol. Drivers who had recently smoked cannabis or taken meth were at the same risk of crashing as those with blood alcohol levels of 0.5 - that is 6 times higher than the legal limit in New Zealand!
Studies are quoted that have shown that cannabis lowers alertness, concentration, coordination, reaction time and the ability to judge distances and to react to road signs and sounds. Ecstacy distorts perception, thinking and memory, impairs tracking ability, slows reactions and causes disorientation of time and place.
These drivers are seriously impaired and pose a risk to other road users and themselves. With the high rate of accidents and high mortality of youth drivers on New Zealand roads the sooner this type of testing is introduced the better. Alcohol and driving laws have been effective and so should these.