National | Driving

Grieving whānau of drug driving victims call for action

A group of whānau who have lost loved ones to drugged drivers are urging the government to adopt more stringent measures to prevent further tragedies.

The group presented a petition to opposition leader Simon Bridges in parliament today.  The petition was named after Matthew Dow, who was killed in a crash on the Appleby Highway near Nelson on New Year's Eve 2017 by a woman who had been drinking and smoking methamphetamine and cannabis.  Dow was one of 79 people killed in drug-related crashes in 2017.

His mother, Karen, is urging the public to sign the petition.

“I just want change” she says, “I want to save other families from grief, from unnecessary loss of life.”

Seven people were killed in a head-on crash last year near Waverley, outside of Taranaki.  The coroner reported that one of the drivers involved in the Waverley crash had been under the influence of synthetic cannabis.

Logan Porteous’ parents Ian and Rosalie were killed in the crash.  He says it was "completely reckless" and did not need to happen.

“I believe that if the police had the support that could test drivers on the side of the road, this could have been prevented,” he says.

At present, it is standard police procedure to perform an impairment test, this generally involves assessing a driver’s ability to walk in a straight line.

The group is calling for standard saliva-based tests, similar to breathalyser tests to detect alcohol.