Don't Drink and Drive

In the past few decades there have been significant changes in public attitudes and behaviour regarding drinking and driving. Impaired driving, quite simply, is no longer socially acceptable, and Canadians are now more likely to avoid getting behind the wheel of a vehicle after drinking. Tactics such as using a designated driver who abstains from drinking alcohol, taking a cab, or staying overnight have all contributed to a dramatic reduction in the number of deaths caused by impaired drivers.

Avoidable Accidents

Despite the progress that has been made, over 1,000 people die in alcohol-related traffic accidents in Canada each year. Thousands more are injured and many become permanently disabled. The saddest statistic of all is that 100% of these accidents are entirely avoidable.

A study of the year-over-year statistics seem to indicate that we may have reached a plateau in Canada with regards to improving the situation and that our society may have become complacent. Indeed, the campaigns of the 1980s and 1990s seem to have dissuaded those who were easiest to reach and those who continue to engage in this illegal activity (the so-called “hard core” offenders) may constitute a high proportion of all alcohol-related problems.

However, Transport Canada estimates that there are 4.2 million trips each year during which the driver felt they were over the legal limit, which far exceeds the “hard core” offender group mentioned above. Additionally, impaired drivers continue to account for 29% of all driver fatalities in Canada - a number that is far too high considering how simple the solution seems to be.

There are definite cost implications to our society as a result of impaired driving. Estimates by Transport Canada suggest that the annual costs associated with health care, damaged property and lost wages resulting from crashes involving alcohol in Canada exceed $5 Billion annually¹.

¹ Statistics garnered from Smashed online magazine by Transport Canada. March 3, 2005.