Driving Sober: A Call to Action during National Impaired Driving Prevention Week

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Impaired Drivers arrested

Thunder Bay, Ontario – As Canada observes National Impaired Driving Prevention Week (March 17-23, 2023), MADD Canada stands alongside governments, law enforcement, and community organizations to underscore the devastating consequences of impaired driving.

NetNewsLedger reports far too many instances where the OPP and the Thunder Bay Police Service are arresting impaired drivers. The cost on our roads, streets and highways is simply devastating. In Thunder Bay over the past two months there have been pedestrians killed, and on our highways the carnage continues.

There have been decades of dedicated education on the hazards of impaired driving. It was back in the early 1970s and earlier when it was sadly all too common to hear, “I had to drive, I was too drunk to walk”.

Today with cabs, U-Ride, Uber and designated drivers, frankly there is no excuse for driving impaired and putting yourself and others at risk. Something likely few impaired drivers really understand is that driving impaired is not just from alcohol. Cannabis slows your judgement and bluntly put, the smell of weed coming from cars is very apparent, even to cycles a cannabis impaired driver passes on the roads.

When a police officer stops you that officer will smell the smoke as soon as they near your vehicle.

Impaired Driving in Canada: A Persistent Threat

Despite decades of awareness campaigns and legislative efforts, impaired driving remains a leading cause of criminal death in Canada. MADD Canada’s National President, Tanya Hansen Pratt, offers a stark reminder of the human costs: “My mother, Beryl, was killed by an impaired driver in 1999. There are thousands of families like mine… Impaired driving… impacts individuals and families from every part of the country.”

Progress, Challenges, and Renewed Efforts

MADD Canada recognizes progress made on anti-impaired driving initiatives. These include:

  • Potential for mandating anti-impaired technology in new vehicles (like U.S. legislation)
  • Use of Mandatory Alcohol Screening by police

However, challenges persist:

  • Alcohol-impaired driving remains a major safety risk.
  • Drug-impaired driving (DID) is on the rise, with cannabis among the most frequently detected drugs.

MADD Canada’s Focus

MADD Canada advocates for a multi-pronged approach:

  1. Federal Leadership: Advocating for a National Summit to Combat Drug Impaired Driving, similar to prior efforts against car theft.
  2. Provincial Action: Urging all provinces/territories to implement Immediate Roadside Prohibition programs for effective enforcement.
  3. Municipal Engagement: Emphasizing municipalities’ vital role in maintaining safe community roads and supporting police enforcement initiatives.

A Candle For Campaign

During National Impaired Driving Prevention Week, join MADD Canada’s online campaign. Light a candle and share a photo/video with the hashtag #acandlefor to honor all victims and survivors of impaired driving.

The Bottom Line

“The deaths and injuries caused by impaired driving are 100% preventable,” emphasizes Tanya Hansen Pratt. “Please always drive sober or arrange for a ride home.”

Let’s all pledge to be part of the solution – drive sober, and encourage others to do the same.

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