MADD Canada

MADD Canada

December 02, 2009 09:31 ET

MADD Canada rates provinces/territories on impaired driving laws

Report identifies which jurisdictions are taking meaningful steps to reduce impaired driving and which are failing to make the grade.

Attention: News Editor TORONTO/ONTARIO/MEDIA RELEASE--(Marketwire - Dec. 2, 2009) - Ontario takes top honours for effective impaired driving laws in MADD Canada's Rating the Provinces and Territories - The 2009 Report, a comprehensive assessment of provincial and territorial progress towards reducing impaired driving.

Ontario ranked 1st, with a grade of A-, among all provinces and territories for its impaired driving laws. It ranked 2nd in 2006 when the last full Rating the Provinces and Territories Report was produced.

"Ontario is a leader in effective legislative reform, making the biggest strides to reduce impaired driving and improve road safety," Mr. Murie said.

Ontario's impaired driving reforms include: a comprehensive graduated licensing program; 3-day administrative licence suspensions for drivers with blood alcohol concentrations over .05%; a comprehensive vehicle impoundment program; and a mandatory alcohol interlock program for all federal impaired driving offences.

Rating the Provinces and Territories identifies legislative initiatives that will make the most significant reductions in alcohol and drug-related crashes, fatalities and injuries. It grades each jurisdiction on their laws in the following priority areas: licensing; licence suspensions and revocations; and vehicle sanctions and remedial programs. Full details on the 2009 Report can be found on MADD Canada's web site (www.madd.ca/english/research/tbor2009.pdf).

* Ontario (1st / A-), Manitoba (2nd / A-), Prince Edward Island (3rd / B) and Nova Scotia (4th / B) were rated highest for their impaired driving laws. Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia made the biggest improvements in rank, with each coming up 7 places in the overall standings.

* British Columbia (7th / C+), Quebec (9th / C-) each introduced modest changes to their impaired driving laws. New Brunswick (12th / D+) scored well for its new .00% BAC alcohol limit for drivers under 21 years but scored poorly in other areas.

* Disappointingly, the remaining jurisdictions - Alberta (6th / B-), Newfoundland and Labrador (8th / C+), the Northwest Territories (11th / D+), Nunavut (13th / F), Saskatchewan (5th / B) and the Yukon (10th / C-) - have done little to strengthen their impaired driving laws since 2006.

"We have a set of best practices that will result in major improvements in road safety," Mr. Murie said. "Failing to implement these critical measures is not an option, particularly when we are faced with increasing rates of impaired driving."

Impaired driving deaths and injuries are higher, on a national level, than they were in 1999. In 2006, alcohol and/or drugs were involved in an estimated 1,278 fatalities and 75,374 injuries.

Impaired driving continues to take a disproportionately heavy toll on Canada's youth. Those between the ages of 16 and 25 years old represent 13.2% of the population but 33.4% of the alcohol-related traffic deaths. In 2006, alcohol was a factor in 39.9% of total traffic fatalities among 16 - 19 year olds and 52.3% of the total traffic fatalities among 20 - 25 year olds.

"We have seen progress in certain areas, and some jurisdictions have shown a strong commitment to making legislative changes that will reduce impaired driving," Mr. Murie said. "We encourage the jurisdictions which have not made meaningful changes to follow the leadership example being set by the provinces at the head of the class," said Mr. Murie.

MADD Canada began working on the Rating the Provinces and Territories Report more than 10 years ago as a way to identify best practices in road safety and initiate a dialogue with provincial and territorial governments on the critical role they can play in reducing impaired driving.
The report identifies five legislative priorities which will have the biggest impact on reducing impaired driving deaths and injuries:

* A comprehensive graduated licensing program lasting at least three years for all new drivers, and express police powers to enforce it.

* A .00% BAC limit for all drivers under 21 and all drivers with less than five years of driving experience.

* Enhanced .05% BAC administrative licence suspensions of 7 - 14 days, including $150-$300 licence reinstatement fees, the recording of the suspensions on the driver's record, and mandatory remedial programs for repeat breaches.

* A mandatory alcohol interlock program for all federal impaired driving offenders, including: reduced provincial suspensions to encourage participation; and reliance on the interlock readings and other behavioural criteria in relicensing.

* Administrative vehicle impoundment for uninsured, unlicensed or suspended drivers, and for impaired driving suspects; administrative vehicle forfeiture for repeated impoundments and offences; and mandatory remedial programs.

The report assesses each jurisdiction's impaired driving laws and their progress towards these priorities.

MADD Canada is generally pleased with the progress that some provinces and territories have made over the past 10 years, particularly in the areas of graduated licencing, .00% blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit for young drivers, alcohol interlocks, and remedial programs.

But this legislative progress does not mean the work is over, said Professor Robert Solomon, Faculty of Law at Western University and MADD Canada's National Director of Legal Policy. Professor Solomon co-authored Rating the Provinces and Territories: The 2009 Report with Dr. E. Chamberlain of the University of Western Ontario and J.D. Candidates M. Abdoullaeva, L. Gwyer and J. Organ.

"Not all programs represent the best practice models," Professor Solomon said. "Some programs are narrow in scope; there are long delays between the enactment of some of the programs and their proclamation in force; and some programs are implemented but the police are not given the authority to enforce them."

"If we are to achieve even the modest goal of preventing further increases in impaired driving deaths and injuries, we need comprehensive provincial and territorial reforms, combined with more intensive enforcement," Professor Solomon said.

/For further information: Visit www.madd.ca or call:
Andrew Murie, Chief Executive Officer, MADD Canada at 1-800-665-6233, ext. 224.
Margaret Miller, National President, MADD Canada at 902-758-5328.
Robert Solomon, National Director of Legal Policy, MADD Canada at 519-661-3603.
/ IN: JUSTICE, SOCIAL, TRANSPORT

Contact Information

  • Margaret Miller, National President, MADD Canada
    Primary Phone: 902-758-5328