Canvassing for Opinion - aka "Blairs Brain on Cannabis"

IMHO prohibition sentiment requires inherent addiction to status quo, an incapacity to visualise beyond the here and now and a desperate desire to know others might feel the same... Reform is not revolutionary, rather it is evolutionary. Having survived banging your head against a brick wall the evolutionist relishes having stopped. / Blair

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Editorial: A Fairer Approach To Road Safety

"Driving while impaired" detected at nanogram sensitivities is a bit rich, especially absent proof of impairment. It becomes the science of small numbers.

The amount of alcohol that is openly (even advertised as OK) tolerated while driving is correlated to 'some impairment', set at a level just enough to sustain public 'mutual respect' but not enough a liquor industry would be seriously hurt if a few glasses of wine put you, your career and your ability to meet your mortgagee at risk or worse, someone in hospital or a casket.

With cannabis inparticular, there is quite simply inadequate evidence of impairment at zero tolerant detection levels, certainly not enough to put you, your career and your ability to meet your mortgagee at risk.

There is an overwhelming consensus in the media reports that drugged driving is causing a lot of accidents and that road side detection is the best intervention. Accepting the former supposes the latter to be logical. It ignores evidence that health promotion can be achieved by other means, or crucially that the health promotion has been disabled by the very policy base itself.

That would be a truth too inconvenient.

We are inventing the blame and shame game...

This policy, like party pills and the national drug policy consultation has on evidence thus far, not been well thought out. /Blair

Newshawk: Herb
Pubdate: Tue, 19 Dec 2006
Source: Hawke's Bay Today (New Zealand)
Copyright: 2006
Author: Louis Pierard


The biggest impediment to full acceptance of the need for vigorous traffic policing is the perception that a government department is using the motoring public as a cash cow. The accumulated effect of all those minor infractions reaps millions each year.

If the revenue were tagged to go back into making roads safer - either through improved design or to pay for more patrols - instead of being sucked into the consolidated fund, then the virtue of issuing speeding tickets would not be so regularly held up to question as a cynical and punctilious form of tax-gathering. And that is despite the fact that it is all having a telling effect on the road toll and that there is still plenty of scope to bring it down much further.

No one likes being pinged in the back pocket for travelling a few kilometres over the limit - especially when they regularly witness so many worse examples of poor driving that seem to go unchecked and especially by a fixed camera that penalises forgetfulness rather than speed.

Speed cameras are undemocratic; speed is for those who can afford it. It's certainly not the way to ensure Police Minister Annette King's wish that with road safety policy the Government wants people to change their ways rather than write out cheques.

So any plans to make the system more rational and fairer should be welcomed. The overhaul of road safety policy announced this week by Ms King and Transport Safety Minister Harry Duynhoven is to be applauded.

Under the changes, motorists risk losing their licences for running red lights or not wearing seatbelts as demerit points replace fines for some offences. The use of demerit points gives enforcement more integrity and prevents drivers, especially the young, from treating road safety policing with contempt.

Now they will lose their licences and their cars (providing the measure is met with equally vigorous enforcement) instead of gathering huge fines that eventually become impossible to pay.

One key initiative is a new offence, driving while impaired by illegal drugs, which will bring in roadside drug-testing as a standard policing method.

If evidence of illegal drugs is found, drugged drivers will be prosecuted with penalties that mirror those levied against drinking drivers. (yeah right, the narco-cops are not going to come round and see if you have a beer in your fridge! /Blair)

Given the prevalence of recreational drug use, recognition of its potential contribution to the road toll is overdue.

(equally, given the prevalence of recreational drug use, recognition of its non- contribution to the road toll by the displacing of clearly harmful alcohol is an oversight./Blair)

Blair Anderson
Corporate Technology Consultants
ph (643) 389 4065 cell 027 265 7219
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