COMMENT:

The Labour Day holiday weekend has again been marred by mass road slaughter.

Just like last year, the annual road toll ticked over the 300 mark during Labour weekend.

This year's toll is tragically on track to match - or eclipse - the killing fields of 2017.
Last year's annual body count of 380 road deaths, was the worst in eight years, a 20 per cent jump on the previous year's toll.

Advertisement

READ MORE:
Five die in crashes on New Zealand roads over Labour Weekend

You will remember the Government expressing their dismay, despair and determination to urgently reduce the carnage.

Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter even went as far to launch a 'Zero Road Deaths' target from 2020.

But one year on since sweeping into power and damning the road toll as unacceptable and horrific, this Government has spectacularly failed to turn the tide.

Last week in Parliament, the Government blew a golden opportunity to make a meaningful difference.

They voted down National MP Alastair Scott's member's bill on roadside drug testing. It would have allowed police to perform saliva-based roadside drug testing on any driver they suspected was driving under the influence of drugs. Particularly cannabis and meth.

The new technology has been eagerly embraced by Australia, Britain, and even Canada. But oh no – Labour and its mates couldn't stomach it. Even though the Police Minister, Stuart Nash, when in opposition, was constantly harping at National to deploy the drug testing technology here. What did he do? He voted it down.

Drug impairment is now a bigger killer on our roads than drinking and driving.

Advertisement

Last year 79 fatal crashes involved a driver with drugs in their system, compared with 70 involving a drunk driver.

But the Government won't budge. Nor will they get serious about combating handheld cellphone use while driving.

A dairy owner faces a $1000 fine for selling a packet of branded cigarettes, but breach the cellphone ban and $80 is as tough as we get. Yes, we could quadruple our current piddly fine - or confiscate the phones, as they do in South Africa.

But if we're serious about tackling this unblinkingly stupid addiction, we should place the offence on the same footing as drink-driving. Get caught? You lose your licence for a minimum of six months.

The New Zealand Transport Agency reckon 40 fatal crashes last year can be attributed to cellphone driver distraction. But this Government chooses to sit on its hands.

The zero road toll looks a long way off.