The Government is considering roadside testing for drug drivers, including saliva tests, in a bid to prevent road deaths.

A petition was launched today in Nelson to introduce roadside testing.

The family of Matthew Dow, who died in a Nelson car crash caused by a driver high on methamphetamine last New Year's Eve, is backing the petition.

The Dow family, Nelson MP Nick Smith, and retired Nelson Bays Highway Patrol Sergeant Terry Richards launched the nationwide petition today at the spot where Takaka woman Alicia Fulcher-Poole crossed the centre-line and crashed into 23-year-old Dow's car.


Fulcher-Poole, 28, was jailed in October for three-and-a-half years for causing death while under the influence of drugs.

"Matthew's tragic death was just one of seven fatalities in the Nelson Bay Police District last year where meth or cannabis was identified as a cause or contributing factor, accounting for a third of our region's fatal road deaths," Smith said.

"Nationally there were 79 deaths from drug drivers, exceeding for the first time the number killed by drink drivers, which last year was 70.

"It is becoming increasingly more important that we introduce random drug testing with the Government liberalising access to drugs like cannabis."

The petition calls on the House of Representatives to urgently pass legislation to introduce random roadside drug testing to "reduce the escalating road toll from drugged drivers".

Today, Police Minister Stuart Nash said roadside drug testing relied on accurate and easy-to-administer technology but confirmed "a range of options" were being considered, including saliva testing. Any proposed new strategy would be released for public consultation by way of a discussion document, he said.

"My heart goes out to the Dow family on the anniversary of Matthew's death," Nash said.

National MP Nick Smith is calling for roadside drug testing.
National MP Nick Smith is calling for roadside drug testing.

"When police knocked on their door a year ago it was to deliver the worst news a parent could dread."

Between 500-600 drivers are charged with offences related to drug-impaired driving in New Zealand every year.


And police carry out an average of 4600 breath tests every day. When officers suspect that a driver has taken drugs, they can also compel them to undergo an impairment test on the roadside. If a driver fails the impairment test, they can be forbidden from driving or forced to supply a blood sample.

"We need to do more to stop dangerous drivers getting behind the wheel and police enforcement on our roads is a key part of this," Nash said.

"However, police cannot do this on their own. Every one of us must challenge dangerous driving behaviours when we see them, whether it is our best friend, a colleague, a family member, or a stranger. The community as a whole is best placed to stop drugged drivers getting behind the wheel."