THE PROBLEM

We have a big problem in urban and rural New Zealand. Despite many campaigns to get people talking about drinking and driving, alcohol is still a factor in 30% of all fatal crashes in New Zealand.

These deaths wreak havoc in families and communities – and they are all preventable. Why is this still happening? There may be a misconception that ‘drunk driving’ means people are visibly drunk. But having one or a few drinks and driving is just as dangerous, to yourself and others.

The fact is: Any alcohol in your system affects your judgement and degrades your driving.

Drunk driving in NZ

  • Alcohol is a factor in 30% of all fatal crashes in New Zealand.
  • 16,000 Kiwis are charged with drink driving every year.
  • The average annual social cost of crashes with over 20-year old drivers with known alcohol levels is $446 million.
  • Police estimate that 8,764 drivers are breath tested around New Zealand every day, and of these 100 people are charged with drink-driving.
  • Between 2014 and 2016, alcohol or drugs were a factor in 29% of fatal crashes, 14% of serious injury crashes and 10% of minor injury crashes.
  • In the Auckland region alone, there were 338 death and serious injury casualties between 2012 and 2016 related to alcohol and drugs. In 2016, there were 44 serious casualties relating to alcohol/drugs, including 7 deaths.

The law on drink and drugged driving
In New Zealand, if you’re under 20 years old, the legal limit for alcohol in your system is ZERO. The legal drink drive limits for drivers 20 years and over are a breath alcohol limit of 250 micrograms (mcg) of alcohol per litre of breath and a blood alcohol limit of 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood.

Because your alcohol tolerance can change depending on things like whether you’ve eaten or are tired, whether you’re male or female, whether you’ve just been playing sport or to the gym … the fact is many people don’t know exactly what their safe limit is and reaching the limit comes sooner that you realise.

The fact is: Even at the legal limit, you’re twice as likely to crash than before you started drinking.

Drugged driving in NZ

Driving after drug use is not uncommon. Deaths from drugged driving are preventable too.

  • A recent NZ Drugs Foundation survey found that 70% of drug users report driving under the influence of cannabis or prescription stimulants.
  • Research carried out by the Institute of Environmental Science and Research also found that around a quarter of all drivers and motorcyclists killed in road crashes were found to have cannabis in their system - with or without other substances.
  • About 400 Kiwis are convicted of drugged driving a year.
  • In 2017, 79 fatal crashes involved a driver who had drugs in their system.
  • Studies in New Zealand have found about one in three drivers in fatal and serious injury crashes had some type of drug in their system – mainly cannabis.
  • Studies are revealing that cannabis is a significant contributing factor in car crash statistics, especially when combined with alcohol, even in small amounts.

Did you know?

The law treats controlled drugs and prescription medicines even-handedly because both can impair your ability to drive safe. The law cares about the safety risk to other road users, rather than the drug of choice.