'Sensible stoners' are the target of a new advertising campaign
which aims to reduce the number of crashes on our roads.
NZ Transport Agency advertisements, which begin screening
tonight, target drivers aged in their 30s and 40s who think it's
okay to drive after using cannabis.
The ads are the first in New Zealand to directly target cannabis
users who drive under the influence. According to the NZ Drug
Foundation, two-thirds of cannabis users admit to driving under the
influence of drugs.
"By and large these people are not risk-takers. We're talking to
the 'sensible stoners' who believe that using cannabis has little
impact on their driving," said Transport Agency road safety
director Ernst Zollner.
"Many believe that they are safer drivers because they think
they're more focused, drive slower and are therefore more careful
on the roads. They don't consider what they're doing to be
dangerous - but we're asking them to reconsider that notion,
because the facts tell a very different story."
International evidence shows drivers under the influence of
cannabis are more likely to cause car crashes, and the more
cannabis smoked, the worse the driving is.
Recent studies show drivers with cannabis - and no other
substances - in their systems were almost twice as likely to be to
blame for a fatal car crash than unimpaired drivers. Drivers with
higher doses of cannabis in their systems were more likely to be at
fault in the crash that killed them.
"While it's a commonly held belief that drivers under the
influence of cannabis are safer because they drive more slowly, the
evidence clearly shows that cannabis use slows down reaction times,
which means you are more likely to crash," Mr Zollner said.
"Road crashes happen very suddenly and unexpectedly, and slower
reaction times mean you're much less likely to see a crash coming
in time to avoid it."
The new ads mark the second stage in a long-term Transport
Agency campaign aimed at challenging misconceptions about
A recent Transport Agency national poll showed 56 per cent of
respondents thought drug-driving was a problem, and 32 per cent
considered it safe to use cannabis then drive.
The new campaign uses community 'experts' who have regular
contact with those who drive after using cannabis, including bakery
owners, dairy owners, fish and chip shop workers and the children
of those who use the drug. It aims to get drugged drivers to
acknowledge that when they use cannabis, they are slower at doing
"We're simply looking for these people to acknowledge that
cannabis slows their reaction times, and to start to question the
safety of their driving when their ability to react to a situation
may not be as fast as it could be," Mr Zollner said.
More than half (58 per cent) of all New Zealand drivers under
the influence of cannabis think being stoned makes no difference to
their driving ability, said the Drug Foundation.