Many people in Aotearoa regularly take medication, including prescribed, bought over the counter and traditional remedies, to stay well and function; as society becomes more accepting of its use, the regular use of medication is on the rise.

Taken alone, medication has numerous benefits but when taken in combination with other drugs and/or alcohol, the risk of impairment markedly increases. Research shows that when medications are combined with alcohol and illegal drugs, the risk of being involved in a fatal crash can increase by up to 23 times. Each year, people are hurt and killed on New Zealand roads because drivers are under the influence of substances which impair their reactions. In both 2019 and 2020 over 100 people were killed in crashes where a driver was found to have drugs in their system. 2016 data shows that of those drivers who died in a drug-related crash, three-quarters of them had more than one drug in their system.


Experts – Effects

Experts – Harm

Public reactions

Target audience

This campaign primarily targets people who regularly use medication and think nothing of having an alcoholic drink or taking a painkiller for a headache or a sore back. We want them to seriously question the safety of mixing their medication and driving.

At the same time, we want to raise awareness of this issue within the general population of Aotearoa. Some people may need to take regular medication in the future. We want them to know that mixing medications with other substances can increase their impairment levels which could result in serious injuries or death if they crash.

Our approach

While most road users fully intend to follow the rules of the road, some will, occasionally, push limits or make poor choices. But what if you don’t know you’re making a poor choice? Or if you know you’re making a poor choice but don’t think it will affect you or your driving?

This is new news for many people. Some don’t see that what they’re doing is mixing and think they’re doing all the right things. While others think it won’t affect their driving. Just because you don’t feel impaired doesn’t mean you aren’t impaired.

To show the harm that mixing substances can cause on our roads and the multiplied effect that mixing medications has on a person, this new campaign shows different experts such as a GP, critical care paramedic, serious crash unit analyst, pharmacist, toxicologist, emergency medicine specialist and a forensic pathologist share their views on mixing medications with other substances. Interviews were also carried out with members of the public to gauge their thoughts on the topic.

When tested, the campaign was found to be highly relevant with our target audience and had a strong message outtake of Don’t drive with mixed medications/prescriptions and Don’t mix alcohol with drugs and drive. The campaign introduces the new tagline: Mixed? Don’t Drive.

We worked with a wide range of key stakeholders such as NZ Police, St John New Zealand and the NZ Drugs Foundation throughout the development of this campaign. Over the next 12 months we will work with Te Manatū Waka Ministry of Transport and NZ Police to implement the new roadside drug testing regime that will come into force in 2023.

Road to Zero

New Zealand’s Road to Zero safety strategy sets a target to reduce deaths and serious injuries on our roads, cycleways and footpaths by 40 percent (from 2018 levels) by 2030

It is time we stopped accepting that a certain amount of death and serious injury is the price we pay for moving around Aotearoa. This campaign is just one action we are taking to improve road safety outcomes in Aotearoa.

The campaign

The campaign launched on 14 March 2022 with three videos for online and cinema use. Out-of-home advertising has also been developed to support the campaign.

We welcome our partners to re-share our social content through their own channels.

For more information on drug-affected driving, visit the NZ Drug Foundation website(external link)

Check out our latest education information on mixing substances

  • Digital







    Critical Care Paramedic

    Serious Crash Unit Analyst


    Emergency Medicine Specialist

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  • Outdoor


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