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Plan Ahead this Holiday Season

Plan Ahead this Holiday Season

December 7, 2018

By Blair Qualey

This is a special time of year for many people, as holiday festivities occur involving family, friends and co-workers – and many of us will be enjoying the spirit of the season.

However, if your activities may involve drinking or consuming cannabis, plan ahead for a safe ride home. Arrange a designated driver, call a taxi or friend, or take transit – but do not get behind the wheel.

Sadly, each year in B.C., 65 people die in crashes involving impaired driving. Almost half of those deaths happen during the summer. However, other deaths happen during what should be joyous celebrations during the winter holidays.

According to ICBC, an average of 340 people are injured in 1,200 crashes in B.C. each year between December 24-26 alone.

For those who may believe this cautionary message only applies to those indulging in alcohol, think twice. Transport Canada reports the percentage of Canadian drivers killed in vehicle crashes who tested positive for drugs (40%) now actually exceeds the numbers who test positive for alcohol (33%) – and impaired driving is the leading criminal cause of death and injury in Canada.

And for those who simply aren’t getting the message, consider that BC has the toughest drinking and driving laws in Canada. If you’re caught driving impaired, you could face these penalties:

• Driving suspensions from 24 hours to 90 days
• Vehicle impoundment
• Fines, from $600 and up to $4,060
• Jail time
• Mandatory rehabilitation
• You may have to pay a Driver Risk Premium, on top of your insurance.

Furthermore, if you crash while driving impaired, you’re likely in breach of your insurance policy. That means you could be personally responsible for 100 per cent of the costs if you damage someone else’s property or injure them.

When you drink or consume cannabis and then choose to get behind the wheel you not only risk your life but those of others on the road. With so many options to get home safely, there is no excuse to drive while impaired.

And a final caution to all drivers. Don’t allow yourself to be distracted. Put down your cellphone or any other device that may take your attention away from the road. When you are behind the wheel, focus on the road. Allow everyone to enjoy the holiday season – because the alternative is simply not worth it.

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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