Petition for roadside drug testing launched by the family of Nelson drug driving victim

Nelson MP Nick Smith.
Nelson MP Nick Smith. Photo credit: Newshub

A year on from the tragic loss of their son to a driver high on meth, a Nelson family have launched a petition calling for the introduction of roadside drug testing.

Last New Year's Eve, 23-year-old Matthew Dow was killed in a car crash. The driver of the other car had been smoking meth, and had been seen driving erratically. 

"Our hope as a family is to hope that no other family has to go through the grief that we have experienced," says his mother Karen Dow.

Nelson MP Nick Smith says in 2018 "there were 79 deaths from drug drivers, exceeding for the first time the number killed by drunk drivers, which was 70".

"It is becoming increasingly more important that we introduce random drug testing with the Government liberalising access to drugs like cannabis."

"Our road toll is horrific - it needs to stop," adds Ms Dow. "New Zealand needs to stand up and say enough.

"It's nothing that a parent should have to do, to bury their child. But to see their life taken when the circumstances were so avoidable it fills me with such anger, and such regret at the life that Matthew will not have. A whole chapter of our lives is gone."

Ms Dow hopes the petition will bring some justice to Matthew's death.

"Matthew was a very justice-orientated young man, and I feel to honour him would be a great thing, to have something positive come out of such a terrible thing."

National MP Alastair Scott has submitted a Member's Bill that would allow police to stop drivers at random and test them for cannabis, MDMA and methamphetamine. The Government has said it's open to the idea, if the tests are accurate enough. 

Both Dr Smith and Ms Dow agree New Zealand should be following in the footsteps of other countries, with Ms Dow asking that people "give the police the powers that they need to stop this loss of life. It's a simple enough test, other countries are doing it." 

Dr Smith agrees, saying: "New Zealand needs to follow the lead of countries like the UK, Canada and Australia and introduce roadside drug testing.

"New Year's Eve should be a time for celebration, and for hope but forever for the Dow family, it's going to remind them of the day they were robbed of their son."

Ms Dow has a plea for New Zealand, saying we must stop "naively burying [our] heads that we don't have an issue with drug driving is ridiculous".

"New Zealand, you need to wake up and stop this murder".