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Drug affected driving advertisements

Updated: 7 April 2015

Safer Journeys aims to significantly reduce the incidence of drug-impaired driving, with fewer people losing their lives or suffering serious injuries as a result of drugged drivers.

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Television advertising

Expert opinion

Campaign background

Drug driving is a serious road safety issue. ESR research shows that around one-quarter of all drivers and motorcyclists killed in road crashes were found to have cannabis present in their system, with or without other substances. Their research also shows cannabis to be the second most common drug found in blood samples of deceased drivers. The first is alcohol.

Our drug affected driving campaign is a long-term behavioural change campaign aimed at reducing the harm caused by drugged drivers. Driving under the influence of drugs is common and widespread.

Conversations generated by stage one of our campaign showed us that the main drug people admit to using and then driving under the influence of is cannabis. Results from our national poll showed that 56% of respondents thought drug driving was a problem and 32% said it was safe to smoke cannabis and then drive.

This next stage of the drug impaired driving campaign will focus specifically on those who use cannabis.

The challenge

In comparison to drink-driving, less is known about the extent of drugged-driving in New Zealand and the impact it has on road safety. A lack of empirical New Zealand research exists. However, some evidence suggests that drugs may be a bigger factor in crashes than officially reported.

Drug driving is a complex issue. Unlike drink driving, safe limits cannot be established and it is difficult to enforce. Because cannabis is also an illegal drug, it is unregulated. All of these issues make it difficult to target people who use cannabis and drive.

The target audience

Our current campaign targets people who use cannabis. Their own experience tells them that they're okay to drive after using cannabis. Some think the drug has little effect on their driving. They even believe that the drug makes them a safer driver as they feel more focused and drive slower when under the influence. They have never considered their behaviour to be a road safety issue.

Research from the last New Zealand Alcohol and Drug Use Survey found that Maori men and women were over 50 percent more likely to have used cannabis in the previous year than men and women in the general population. So while this campaign is targeting a broad New Zealand audience, it will also specifically be targeting Maori through a separate TV ad and programme integration deliberately developed for Maori, via Maori TV.

The campaign

The campaign builds on what we learned in stage one. It is based on a key insight from our target audience that when a person uses cannabis, they do things slower than usual. We want them to apply this to a driving scenario and acknowledge that:

  • their reaction time is slower
  • they have less ability to react quickly should the unexpected occur.

Ultimately we want them to make the link and start to question their own behaviour behind the wheel.

'Shopkeepers' and 'Blazed'

This approach uses 'experts' from within the community to get our message across. These 'experts' have regular contact with people who use cannabis and think they are ok to drive; they are people such as dairy owners, fish and chip shop workers and the children of our target audience. These 'experts' provide observational insights that aim to get our drugged-drivers to acknowledge that cannabis slows them down.

At this stage of the campaign, we want our audience to simply acknowledge this and start to question the safety of their driving when their ability to react may not be as fast as it could be.


This approach uses the fleeting nature of Snapchat messages (they disappear after a specified time) to demonstrate the risk of driving stoned.

The story unfolds over an afternoon as four guys, using the username 'tinnyvision', document themselves getting stoned. They're slow to react and the short Snapchat videos time out after 10 seconds. Things get serious when the guys go out for a drive and, because the driver's reactions are slower, there are tragic consequences.  This is immediately followed by a snap that reads, 'Stoned drivers are slower to react'.

When the last snap is sent, the follower's username is automatically deleted and no personal data is stored by the NZ Transport Agency. 

If you would like to experience the campaign for yourself, go to Snapchat and sign up to follow 'tinnyvision'.

Media strategy

This campaign launched on 18 August 2013 with media that was targeted at specific television channels and shows, cinema and online sites. The Snapchat initiative launched in August 2014.