Pubdate: Mon, 19 Aug 2013
Source: New Zealand Herald (New Zealand)
Copyright: 2013 New Zealand Herald
Author: Morgan Tait


A new ad campaign is targeting "sensible stoners" who falsely believe 
smoking cannabis makes them more focused behind the wheel.

The New Zealand Transport Agency's (NZTA) latest safety campaign 
began airing on TV screens, in cinemas and online last night, 
targeting the misinformed demographic - drivers in their 30s and 40s 
who smoke marijuana and drive - for the first time.

New Zealand Drug Foundation research has found that half of the 
drivers killed on New Zealand roads are impaired by alcohol, other 
drugs or both.

Of those drivers, 20 per cent had used cannabis and more than 25 per 
cent had used the drug and alcohol. Cannabis was the second most 
detected substance behind alcohol in drivers involved in crashes.

NZTA road safety director Ernst Zollner said those being targeted 
were not "risk-takers".

"We're talking to the 'sensible stoners' who believe that using 
cannabis has little impact on their driving," he said.

"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," Mr Zollner said.

"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.

"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 advertisements mark the second stage in NZTA campaigns aimed 
at challenging misconceptions about drugged-driving.

Stage one of the campaign launched in January last year, using real 
footage captured by hidden cameras to reveal the unscripted responses 
of ordinary New Zealanders when faced with the situation of being an 
unwitting passenger in a car driven by someone under the influence of drugs. 
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom