I’m worried about people drug-driving.
No one should drive while impaired. The Land Transport Act has long banned drug driving and was recently updated to allow for roadside saliva testing. Drivers who test positive for the presence of drugs will be fined and suspended. There are harsher penalties where blood tests confirm impairing levels of drugs in their system, or drugs combined with alcohol. It is worth noting that several studies have found little or no difference in road fatalities in legalised US states compared to states where cannabis remains prohibited.
University of Otago researcher Professor Joseph Boden says the evidence is that cannabis legalisation in North America has not changed the rate of driving while impaired. The official agency Stats Canada also didn’t find any change in the number of people who drove within two hours of using cannabis – but it found the proportion of people who reported being a passenger in a car driven by a driver who had recently used cannabis had fallen since legalisation.
New Zealand science reporter Farah Hancock recently wrote this useful look at how cannabis simply being detectable in a driver’s system does not necessarily equal impairment. Misunderstanding of this distinction led to AA New Zealand publishing a flawed 2017 study that claimed more road death were caused by drug-driving than drinking and driving. As drug and alcohol expert Roger Brooking pointed out, the AA had counted every driver with detectable drug use – but only those drivers who tested above the legal limit for alcohol. It is unfortunate, to say the least, that some people continue to cite that study. When the figures are corrected, alcohol, more than all the other impairing substances put together, is still the biggest killer on the road.