Canadians urged to drive sober this holiday season
In 2016 Canada had the highest percentage of alcohol-impaired driving crash deaths among 20 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries.
Impaired driving is the leading cause of criminal death and injury in Canada and young people continue to be the largest group of drivers who die in crashes and later test positive for alcohol or drugs. Even though alcohol-impaired driving is declining, in 2016 Canada had the highest percentage of alcohol-impaired driving crash deaths among 20 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries. Drug-impaired driving has been on the rise in Canada since police-reported data became available in 2009, and is a major contributor to fatal road crashes in Canada.
This month, the Honorable Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, launched the Government of Canada’s Don’t Drive High public awareness campaign to communicate to Canadians the risks associated with driving under the influence of cannabis and other drugs. Ads are currently displayed in public spaces on social media and television, and in movie theatres. Public awareness efforts will include evidence-based information on the risks of drug-impaired driving.
According to recent public opinion research, half of youth (50%) aged 16-24 believe that driving while under the influence of cannabis is more socially acceptable than driving under the influence of alcohol. Canadians need to know the real facts about driving while impaired by cannabis, alcohol or other drugs. The Government is making significant investments in public education to inform Canadians, particularly youth and young adults, about the health and safety risks of cannabis and other drugs. In addition, the Government introduced Bill C-46, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (offences relating to conveyances) and to make consequential amendments to other Acts that would strengthen impaired driving laws and help ensure the public is better protected from both alcohol and drug-impaired driving.
The federal government will also continue to engage young Canadians on social media and leverage partnerships with other levels of governments and organizations that are working toward our common goal to eliminate alcohol and drug-impaired driving on Canadian roads.
“The message is simple: if you’re high or you’ve been drinking, don’t drive. Too many Canadians badly need to hear that message—too many people downplay the potentially deadly risks of driving while impaired by drugs or alcohol. With this new campaign, along with our partners like MADD Canada, Young Drivers of Canada, the Canadian Automobile Association and the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, we will help Canadians, and especially youth and their parents, understand how your life can change in an instant when you drive impaired. I encourage you to talk about the risks of drug- and alcohol-impaired driving with your family and friends. It might just save someone you love.”
– The Honorable Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
“Drinking, drugs and driving are a deadly combination at any time of year. MADD Canada is pleased to work with Public Safety Canada to drive home the message that driving sober is not only the safe choice, but the right choice.”
– Michelle Okere, MADD Canada Chapter Services Manager – Saskatchewan
“Every year thousands of Canadians are needlessly killed or injured by alcohol- and drug-impaired drivers. CAA is proud to work with Public Safety Canada to make Canadians aware of the dangers of impaired driving, and encourage Canadians to make the safe and responsible choice to drive sober.”
– Barry Martin, Board Member, CAA Saskatchewan
“Far too often, the RCMP is called to serious collisions and fatalities on Saskatchewan’s roadways. Unfortunately, many of these collisions involve alcohol or drugs. These tragedies are preventable. We must all do our part: report suspected impaired drivers, make sure friends and family members do not drive impaired and always ensure you have a safe ride home.”
– Assistant Commissioner Curtis Zablocki, Commanding Officer Saskatchewan RCMP
“Bringing the use of cannabis into the open with upcoming legislation and regulation means it is more important than ever for Canadians to talk to each other about the dangers of driving high. Almost everyone drives; the thought of piloting a ton of steel and glass at speeds up to 110 km/h should make every Canadian realize: driving is an activity that demands your complete – and sober – attention. Now, more than ever, make the promise to yourself and others: don’t drive high.”
– Chief Evan Bray, Regina Police Service
• 22% of youth who have used cannabis said they drove while impaired and most said they did it because they don’t think it’s as dangerous as drunk driving.
• One in three Canadians report that they have ridden in a vehicle operated by a driver who was under the effects of cannabis.
• 28% of Canadians who have used cannabis say they have operated a vehicle while under the influence.
• In 2016, there were 3,098 incidents of police-reported drug-impaired driving, an increase of 11% over the previous year.
• The percentage of Canadian drivers fatally injured in vehicle crashes who test positive for drugs (40%) now exceeds that of drivers who test positive for alcohol (33.3%).
• Canadians who drove after drinking reported they had done so, on average, six times in the preceding 12 months.
• Saskatchewan had the highest rate of police-reported impaired driving among all provinces in 2015.