Road freight peak body Ia Ara Aotearoa Transporting New Zealand is pleased with the Government’s Friday announcement that the roadside drug testing regime will be changed, keeping drug impaired drivers off the road.

Random oral roadside drug testing was scheduled to begin back in March 2023, but was indefinitely deferred by the Government after Police advised sufficiently accurate saliva tests didn’t exist.

The changes announced by the Government last week will see positive saliva tests sent to the lab for evidential testing before an infringement notice is issued. Drivers who have two positive screening tests will be banned from driving for 12 hours, as well as receiving an infringement fee and demerit points.

Transporting New Zealand Interim Chief Executive Dom Kalasih has welcomed the change, saying that a practical fix to the stalled roadside drug testing regime is well overdue, after the initial implementation failure.

“Transporting New Zealand has been advocating for a robust random roadside drug testing regime for years, to ensure the safety of all road users. Between 2019 and 2021, drug and alcohol impairment were a factor in 43 percent of fatal crashes. Unless we get serious about this country’s approach to drug impaired driving, New Zealand certainly isn’t on the Road to Zero.”

Seeing a reduction in drug-related harm on the roads is a particular priority for Transporting New Zealand’s commercial road freight operator members.

“For commercial drivers, including truck drivers, New Zealand’s public roads are their workplaces. They share these roads with members of the public who may not have the driving hours, skills, or drug-testing regimes that professional drivers have. While businesses can mitigate their own health and safety risks, they cannot mitigate the randomness of drugged drivers on public roads,” says Kalasih.

The Government’s announcement follows the National Party’s transport spokesperson’s pledge at Transporting New Zealand’s June conference that they would ensure the rollout of the random roadside drug testing regime if elected.

“Setting politics aside, we just need these fixes implemented and a robust roadside drug testing regime in place as soon as possible,” says Kalasih.

For further information, contact Dom Kalasih, interim chief executive, Ia Ara Aotearoa Transporting New Zealand, 027 441 4309.