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Lazy Days of Summer, No Excuse to Relax Attitude on Driving Under the Influence

Lazy Days of Summer, No Excuse to Relax Attitude on Driving Under the Influence

July 10, 2019

By Blair Qualey

As we approach what for many people will be the lazy days of summer and evenings often involve socializing with friends and family, it’s a good time to remind drivers to NOT relax attitudes about driving under the influence.

Sadly, ICBC reports that an average of 68 people die in crashes involving impaired driving each year and almost half of those occur during the summer months.

The Cannabis Act became law nine months ago, so this will be the first summer period during which the recreational use of marijuana will be legal. This is not reason to sound an alarm, but it certainly is reason to remind everyone that they cannot get behind the wheel if they have been indulging.

As we get closer to the one-year anniversary of this landmark legislation coming into force, there will be interest in determining what impact, if any, legalization has had on the number of British Columbians and Canadians charged with impaired driving offenses, compared to years previous.

Last Fall, a number of organizations mounted public education and awareness campaigns to encourage people to think twice about getting behind the wheel after partaking in alcohol or drugs. The good news is that Canadian Police have suggested thus far, it appears that drivers are keeping cannabis out of reach. However, the one-year anniversary should provide an opportunity to look at some clear data from which we can establish the true level of impact.
Most of us are accustomed to seeing television ads and public service announcements about the dangers of drinking and driving. It’s a message that has made its way into our subconscious. In the same manner, all drivers need to continue to get the same message about driving high on cannabis.

Every motorist has experienced a range of situations in which their ability to act quickly and decisively was the difference between a safe outcome and an accident. Consuming any substance that may impair your ability to respond to a child jumping in front of you or a vehicle swerving unexpectedly is simply irresponsible – and the outcome is potentially one that none of us may want to think about, but we need to be conscious of.

For those who refuse to get the message, know that a province-wide summer CounterAttack campaign will be in effect over the next several weeks. All drivers need to continue to get the message that any level of impairment is not okay. To teenagers, young adults, parents and grandparents – let’s keep working together to keep BC’s roads safe.

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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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