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Drug-affected driving advertising

This section focuses on our drug-affected driving road safety advertising campaigns. Here you can learn about the approach behind the campaigns, who we target and why. You can also see the advertising material we’ve produced. 

Currently there are three national drug affected driving advertising campaigns running. 

Drug-driving is a serious road safety issue

Research carried out by the Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR) (external link) 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-affected driving was a problem and 32% said it was safe to smoke cannabis and then drive.

This stage of our campaign focuses specifically on those who use cannabis.

The challenge

In comparison to drink-driving, less is known about the extent of drug-affected 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 campaign targets people who use cannabis. They may think they're okay to drive after using cannabis, and that the drug has little effect on their driving. They may 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 Māori men and women were over 50% more likely to have used cannabis in the previous year than men and women in the general population. So while this campaign targets a broad New Zealand audience, it also specifically targets Māori through a separate Television advertisement and programme integration developed for Māori, via Māori 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.


Creative Commons Licence
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution New Zealand Licence