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Arrive Alive: Don’t Drink and Drive

Arrive Alive: Don’t Drink and Drive

October 20, 2014

Everyone knows that drinking alcohol then getting behind the wheel is dangerous. It can also be deadly.

BC changed its drinking and driving laws in 2010 to build in stricter penalties for impaired drivers. First-time offenders with a blood alcohol content of 0.05 per cent to 0.08 per cent will have their driver’s licence suspended for three days, pay a $600 fine and can also their vehicle impounded for three days. The penalties are even more stiff those with a blood alcohol content level above 0.08 per cent.

A new study from the University of British Columbia (UBC) shows that fatal crashes, ambulance calls and hospital admissions resulting from motor vehicle crashes have dropped since the new laws were imposed.

Car crashes have also been curbed. According to the UBC research, vehicle crashes fell 21 per cent, crash-related hospital admissions dropped 8 per cent and crash-related ambulance calls fell by 7.2 per cent.

Based on those statistics, the study says there were 84 fewer fatal crashes, 308 fewer hospital admissions and 2,553 fewer ambulance calls for road trauma each year.

“Our findings add to the growing evidence that the new laws, although controversial to some, were associated with marked improvements in road safety,” lead author Dr. Jeffrey Brubacher, an associate professor of Emergency Medicine at UBC, stated in releasing the study this summer.

“We hope that other jurisdictions will follow B.C.’s lead in implementing similar laws designed to deter dangerous driving,” added Dr. Brubacher, who is also a researcher with Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) Research Institute and a VCH Emergency Department physician.

The study follows previous research conducted by Dr. Brubacher and colleagues that found a 40-per- cent drop in alcohol-related fatal crashes and a 23-per-cent drop in alcohol-related injury collisions in the year after the changes took effect.

Stricter impaired driving penalties and media coverage around potentially horrifying and heart-breaking impacts of drunk driving have both helped to reduce incidents.

Still, BC’s Ministry of Justice says driving while affected by alcohol or drugs is a leading cause of death on the roads. It’s hard to believe, but there are still thousands of people each year who think it’s acceptable to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and/or other drugs. “This is a serious concern because the risk of motor vehicle collisions that result in injuries and/or fatalities significantly increases when the driver is affected by alcohol or drugs,” the ministry says.

The UBC study and the warnings from the ministry are good reminders that driving while impaired is a terrible idea. Not only is it a criminal offence to operate a motor vehicle while impaired, but also people who continue to do it are putting themselves and everyone else on the road in danger.
You’ve heard this before but it’s worth repeating, especially as we’re a mere month or so away from the start of the holiday party season: Arrive Alive. Don’t Drink and Drive.

Blair Qualey is President and CEO of the New Car Dealers Association of BC. You can email him at bqualey@newcardealers.ca.

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