Ad campaign to target drug-affected drivers

20:21, Jan 11 2012
drug drivers
UNDER THE INFLUENCE: Passengers offer to drive after their driver says his prescription pills have made him dozy in a new NZTA drug-driving ad campaign.

Unwitting passengers have been taken for a ride in a new campaign against drug-affected driving.

In the advertisements, covert filming was carried out by the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) over four days last year, involving more than 100 actors who thought they were being driven to a costume-fitting for a television commercial.

Their drivers were also actors who pretended to be on drugs while driving.

The ads show the nervous and worried reactions of the unsuspecting passengers, with many offering to take over driving duties.

The drivers told their passengers they were on cannabis, prescription pills, ecstasy or P. "I just had some weed before I came round so I am in a good head space," one driver told his passengers, as they exchanged worried looks.

The ad campaign will launch on Sunday and will include websites such as YouTube and Facebook.

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The ads were part of a long-term strategy to reduce harm caused by drug-affected drivers, NZTA chief executive Geoff Dangerfield said.

"Current attitudes about the risks of driving on drugs are similar to the views people once had about drink-driving – often complacent, based on unfounded myths or simply ignorant of the facts.

"Many people currently believe that they can drive safely on drugs, or that drugs actually make them drive better."

A New Zealand Drug Foundation survey in 2009 on the impact of drug-affected driving found Kiwis had a relaxed attitude to the risks involved.

Executive director Ross Bell said drivers tended towards the classic "she'll be right" attitude. "It's that relaxed attitude like we had towards drinking in the 60s and 70s – a kind of laissez-faire belief that nothing will go wrong and it's up to the individual to keep safe."

Driving risks after taking substances included reduced reaction times, drowsiness and vision impairment, he said.

"A very common way to take drugs in New Zealand is to have a few drinks and smoke cannabis. When these two things combine the risks increase exponentially," Mr Bell said.

UNDER THE INFLUENCE

Results of a study of the blood of drivers who died in a crash show that 48 per cent had used alcohol and/or drugs.

31 per cent had used cannabis with or without alcohol or other drugs.

14 per cent had used drugs other than alcohol or cannabis.

18 per cent used alcohol with drugs.

90 per cent of frequent methamphetamine users, 62 per cent of frequent ecstasy users and 90 per cent of frequent injecting drug users have driven under the influence of a drug other than alcohol in the past six months.

Fairfax Media