Students study impacts of medication on drivers


The NZ Transport Agency is applauding the efforts of a group of Upper Hutt College students who are studying the dangers of substance impaired driving and helping to raise awareness of the dangerous affects some medication may have on drivers.

The Year 13 students, aged between 16 and 17, are completing the NCEA Level 3 assessment resource as part of the Achievement Standard Health 91461 standard: Analyse a New Zealand health issue.

Upper Hutt College Health Studies class

Upper Hutt College Health Studies class

The NZ Transport Agency’s Director of Customer Experience Behaviour Leigh Mitchell says the ability of prescription and over the counter medications to impair drivers, who may not be aware of the impacts, is a very real problem on New Zealand roads.

“1 in 13 drivers killed on our roads have been found to be using strong medication that can impair driving at the time of their crash,” Ms Mitchell says.

“The NZ Transport Agency is working hard to educate New Zealanders on the risks and any help we can get raising awareness in this area is important and hugely appreciated.

Director of Safety and Environment, Harry Wilson, says the course is an excellent initiative and he supports the intention to see it taught in schools across the country.

“We want people to make sure they are safe to drive before they consider getting behind the wheel. If you’re taking medication, talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist to make sure you’re safe to drive. If you’re not fully alert you could be putting yourself, your family and others using the road in danger,” Mr Wilson says.

The students’ teacher, Haley Charles, wrote the NCEA Level 3 assessment resource with the help of information supplied by NZ Transport Agency.

“The early and encouraging feedback from students is that the topic is interesting and engaging,” Ms Charles says.

“The evidence shows that when New Zealanders are made aware of an issue, they want to make the right choices. Already, my students are talking about it at home and at work.”

“I’ve even got a couple of students who work at chemists and they are asking the pharmacists if they can talk with customers about their medication and whether it’s safe to drive while taking.”

The NZ Transport Agency will review the course following its conclusion and expects to make the curriculum resource available to all schools later this year.