Pacific Postdoctoral Fellowship (2016 funding round)

Dr Apo Aporosa
University of Waikato
Kava drink-driving: Driver safety and injury minimisation to improve health
$230,000
24 months

Lay summary

Kava is a traditional Pacific Island drink with great cultural significance that produces soporific relaxant affects similar to sedative drugs. There are increasing concerns over the use of sedative drugs (including kava) and their impacts on driver ability and road safety. It is estimated there are more than 20,000 kava users on an average Friday or Saturday night in New Zealand. Most of these are consuming kava at volumes 32 times greater than pharmacologically recommended doses with many then driving home. Injury resulting from road traffic accidents is the leading cause of hospitalisation for Pasifika men and women living in New Zealand, with anecdotal reports suggesting that kava contributes to this. This first-of-its-kind study will use cognitive and driving simulation tests to access driver fitness immediately following high kava use to understanding impairment effect and driver safety to improve health outcomes for Pasifika peoples and other road users.

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