Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Can YOU stop impaired driving?

According to StatsCan Impaired driving offences have risen for a third consecutive year across Canada. There was a 3% rise from 2008 to 2009. As far as I'm concerned, that is ridiculous.

Governments across the country at both the federal and provincial levels have been making great strides to combat these offences with sanctions, tougher sentences, greater awareness and new laws, but the offence keeps happening!

By and large, the vast majority of us seem to get the fact that it is socially unacceptable to drive impaired. But it seems that many are still doing it. Death, injury, financial ruin, job loss, are things that are very real consequences from such an irrational decision to drive while impaired.

So what's the answer? How do we stop this offence from occurring? The police have their ideas, courts theirs and governments their own...but what about you? What do you think is the answer to curbing this stat from continuing it's upward climb? Here is your chance to voice your thoughts.

Let me give you some numbers to think about: 2009
Total Arrests in Canada for Impaired: 88,630
Total Arrests in Toronto: 2253
Per 100,000 in Canada: 263
Per 100,000 in Toronto: 90

As you can see, Toronto is doing very well compared to the rest of Canada, but very well just doesn't cut it when we are talking about life changing implications such as permanent disability and death because of a preventable, selfish criminal act.

And let's be realistic...2253 people that were caught while driving impaired. How many slipped through that we have no idea about? How many think that they will get away with having 'one for the road'?

What do you think should happen to those people that endanger all our lives. What could be an effective deterrent to stop the people that are willing to sacrifice the lives of our children, our spouses, our parents, our friends?

Its obvious that the threat of a criminal record, licence suspension, death and injury don't stop some of the what will?

I would love to hear what you think. Get creative, be genius...who knows maybe your collective thoughts will send a clear message to our law makers, our courts and most importantly to those people who just don't get it.

Here are a couple of suggestions that I've heard in the past to get the ball rolling;Life time driving ban.
Special licence plates.
De-criminalize low alcohol limits and provide huge fines with long suspensions.

So do me a favour. Please take some time, and let me know what YOU think. Tell me YOUR ideas. Between this blog, Twitter, Facebook and anything else I can think of, I know there is a gem out there that has not been given enough consideration and you could be the person or group responsible for reducing collisions, injuries and death, not just here...but everywhere!


  1. The tagline in most if not all alcohol commercials is : "Please enjoy responsibly."
    This means, no driving, no boating, no cycling, and very likely no walking if your in a drunken state. Always have a person that doesn't drink, or stops early so the effects wear off before you leave. The responsibility is to your own, and anyone else's family, that could be affected by a drunken act.
    It's just as likely for a drunk pedestrian to walk into a car driven soberly as it is for a drunken motorist to hit a sober pedestrian, though the former is lesser described. Alcohol volume percentages are measured based on a 180lb man. If you weigh less you are likely more intoxicated, if you weigh more you could be more sober, with same 0.8 reading. The breathalizers should be recalibrated to reflect the individual. If I know I'm driving I never have more than one, and I am about 180lb (just under atm). If I expect a short stay I will not have alcohol. I grew up being a Designated Driver for my Dad, many college friends, other family. I'm 44 now, and only started to drink beer 2 years ago. Other alcohols are higher percentages, so I often went without as I only liked wine and whisky, which would make me much more intoxicated. A drastic measure is to remove alcohol from restaurants, pool halls, sporting facilities, and even bars.
    That will never go down easy, too much money is made on alcohol, it was way easier to remove smoking. It's a social scene, it would be better at home without the possibility of finding a car, but it still happens. I'm thankful none of my friends drive when they drink, they cab it, or ask a friend who isn't drinking. Perhaps we need bracelets that measure our level of intoxication, so any bartender or wait staff can stop us when it changes colour.
    If you have a regular hangout, they may know you and your limit, but anywhere else will not. That's where we need the help. Know the signs, and insist on handing over the keys.
    No one needs to die because you think you're fine, realise you're not. It boils down to education, learn what to do, and what not to do. Put away the keys, and don't drive.

  2. Driving ban for life.
    Charges should be:
    DUI = attempted suicide
    DUI causing injury = attempted suicide plus attempted murder
    DUI causing death = attempted suicide plus murder

    3 people injured = 3 charges of attempted murder
    3 people dead = 3 charges of murder
    Bail denied

  3. Have we looked at the correlation between the rise in impaired driving and the reduction of late night transit services/routes, the increases in taxi fares, increasingly draconian parking measures and the movement of bars/clubs to outlying areas?

    I absolutely agree that the penalties have to be severe and they have to be enforced! I have seen several people with suspended licenses out driving around (sometimes to court.) Now if I notice them in the parking lot at the court house, I can report them and the police will do something about it. If I call and tell them that my neighbour, who is suspended for two years, is driving to work every single day, they say they can't just sit there and wait to spot him because they are too busy.

    But to get back to my original point, why not require:

    - that if you are hosting a party at which people are drinking, you either ensure you have two DDs to ferry drunks AND their cars home and that you are prepared to hose the drunks overnight.

    - that if you operate a bar or club, you contribute to a fund that provides transportation options to prevent drunk driving.

    Now I'm aware that there is always a percentage of any group of people (particularly if that group consists of drunk people) who take advantage of "free" transportation measures or parking forgiveness to abuse the system, but that could be addressed with some sort of monitoring of users, and the addition of a frequent flyer charge on any abuser's license (just like 407 charges or parking tickets.)

    I'm not much of a drinker, so I've spent many a night herding and acting as DD for the drunks. You aren't going to ever stop a certain group of people from expecting alcohol or other substances to be a regular part of their socializing activities, so we really should find solutions to the issues that cause some drunks to drive (poor planning, lack of funds, lack of options.)

  4. Hi,

    I posted a reply on my blog.

    Here is the link:

  5. Hi Tak. Your message is a great one. I have posted it in it's entirety.

    This is a blog response to the post “Can YOU stop impaired driving?” in which Sergeant Tim Burrows calls for ideas on how to tackle this problem. Here, I present my two cents:

    First, don’t use threats of physical harm or death in your communications, because this kind of message is not effective with the target groups for which it is intended: male drivers and sensation seekers (this term refers to a personality trait that is associated with risk taking and impaired driving)1, 2. Moreover, some studies suggest that these messages can be counterproductive, because they induce denial (“this won’t happen to me”) and self-enhancement attitudes (“I am a better driver than the people in the ad”).

    Second, instead of physical threats, use social threats in your advertisement. Research suggests that young male drivers (who are often the target of these campaigns)2 and sensation seekers3 are more receptive to embarrassment, social stigma and opprobrium.

    Third, implement tougher laws, but complement them with increased enforcement4 and strong campaigns to gain public support. Successful experiences in France and Bogotá, show that attitudes towards the law are important for compliance4 and instrumental in changing driver’s behaviours 5, 6, 7.

    Fourth, increase vulnerability to police controls; that is, make drivers feel that they WILL get caught if they drink and drive. For instance, research suggests that the “benefits of [a sobriety check] campaign may not depend on drivers’ being personally exposed to a checkpoint, but rather on their knowing that others have.”8 Thus, local media can aid sobriety check campaigns, by announcing how many have been checked and how many didn’t pass. Media coverage, in turn, will increase the perceived risks of being caught by the police9.

    Finally, use indirect approaches. For instance, deploy campaigns that also target passengers of impaired drivers (friends, spouses and girlfriends, etc). Peer pressure and social sanction are excellent means to change behaviour6, 8.

    There are many other things that we can do, but that requires deeper research into the statistics: are impaired driving offenses rising evenly across provinces and territories? Or are they concentrated in just a few of them? Which gender or age group accounts for most the accretion? Which income groups? In my experience, the key to create effective solutions is strong analytics supported by extensive literature review on social psychology and injury prevention.