Driving Drunk – Still a Choice Many Drivers Make

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THUNDER BAY – Driving drunk. One might think after all the education, all the messaging from social groups, and the growing efforts to stop impaired driving that people would simply see this as unacceptable behaviour. Yet even today, many drivers seemingly will get behind the wheel of their motor vehicles and drive even when they have been drinking alcohol.

“It’s no surprise that these attitudes worry Canadians,” says Christopher Wilson, ‎Director, Alcohol Test Products, Alcohol Countermeasure Systems (ACS), who commissioned the survey. “We believe it’s a significant finding that two-thirds of Canadians have either stopped or thought about stopping a friend, family member or co-worker from driving due to drinking.”

The recent survey by Leger shows that while a majority of Canadians agree that even a small amount of alcohol can impair a driver’s ability, the actions of Canadian drivers don’t always match that awareness.

Thirty-three per cent of Canadian drivers surveyed by Leger in February 2016 agreed with the statement, “There have been occasions where I drove but was unsure if I was over the legal limit,” and another 26 per cent agreed that, “There have been occasions where I drove and am certain I was over the legal limit.”

One-quarter of those surveyed agree that even if they are a bit over the legal limit, they are confident they are a safe driver (a number that was significantly higher among male drivers than female drivers (30 per cent vs. 17 per cent ). One-third of Canadians agree that there have been occasions where they drove but were unsure if they were over the legal limit – men are significantly more likely to agree than women (42 per cent vs. 25 per cent).

A majority of Canadians agree that drunk drivers make them concerned about the safety of family or friends (91 per cent) or themselves (90 per cent).

“Drivers overestimate their ability to judge their sobriety, but that shouldn’t be the case,” Wilson says. “We know Canadians believe that establishments that serve alcohol also have an obligation not to let patrons drink and drive.”

The survey noted that more than two-thirds of Canadians, more so in Quebec and among women, agreed that pubs, restaurants and bars should be required to have alcohol level testing equipment available to patrons (68 per cent).

“Our business has been built servicing the law enforcement, transportation and regulatory industries,” stated Wilson. “We work closely with research foundations, non-profit organizations and restaurants and bars that have on-site alcohol testers available so that drivers or their friends know with certainty when they shouldn’t be behind the wheel.”

“We’ve come a long way in educating Canadians about the perils of drinking and driving, and that simply feeling you’re competent to get behind the wheel after drinking is far from enough,” Wilson says. “This survey confirms that we have more to do to make sure Canadians take the right steps to protect themselves and their loved ones from being victims of drunk drivers.”

About the survey

An online survey of 1546 Canadians was conducted between Monday February 1st to Thursday February 4th 2016 using LegerWeb. A probability sample of the same size would yield a margin of error of +/- 2.5 per cent, 19 times out of 20.