MADD Canada

MADD Canada

May 16, 2006 15:40 ET

MADD Canada releases new report on Youth and Impaired Driving

'It's possible to reduce the number of young Canadians killed by impaired driving' - MADD Canada - release of report 'Opportunities for Progress' Attention: News Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor, Transportation Editor WINNIPEG, MANITOBA--(CCNMatthews - May 16, 2006) - There are readily available legislative initiatives that would effectively reduce the number of young drivers being killed and injured on Canada's roads as a result of impaired driving. MADD Canada is urging provincial governments to take up the challenge of making our roads safer for young drivers, an age group which is over-represented in the impaired driving crash and fatality statistics.

At a Winnipeg press conference to release the report 'Opportunities for Progress', MADD Canada's National President suggested it is a matter of political will whether necessary measures will be introduced across Canada to make a difference for young drivers and impaired driving incidents. Karen Dunham said that provincial and territorial jurisdictions need to 'take a hard look at Justice Minister Gordon Mackintosh's serious approach' to preventing impaired driving fatalities on the highways and roads of Manitoba.

"Our research tells us that there are some specific legislative initiatives that could make a remarkable difference in reducing the numbers of young people being killed as a result of impaired driving," says Mrs. Dunham. "We know that young people's patterns of alcohol and illicit drug consumption mixed with their driving inexperience, is the reason why they have the highest rates of impairment-related crash deaths as drivers, passengers, pedestrians, bicyclists, and snowmobile and ATV operators. So, MADD Canada is saying to provincial governments: act on the available facts, enforce existing laws, and enact new legislation - for the safety of this generation of young drivers."

"Traffic fatalities remain the number one cause of death among young people," and Mrs. Dunham adds, "Given that we know of effective measures to curb incidents involving youth and impaired driving, governments have a moral imperative to address this problem."

"It is possible to reduce the number of young Canadians killed by impaired driving," the MADD Canada National President says.

'Opportunities for Progress' recommends a comprehensive approach for provincial governments to effectively reduce impaired driving fatalities among young drivers. It offers a series of recommendations involving regulatory measures dealing with the marketing and sale of alcohol to youth as well as enhancements to police enforcement powers.

The report's centerpiece is a recommended, comprehensive three-stage graduated licensing program that would feature a zero BAC restriction for all drivers until the age of 21. Mrs. Dunham lauds the Manitoba Government for its announcement of a five-year zero BAC for all new drivers. "This initiative will make a difference and it exceeds what we recommended. This will impact the high rates of alcohol-related fatalities among 18-20 year old drivers because it provides an added safeguard for those inexperienced drivers who begin to drive unsupervised at the same time as reaching the legal drinking age. It helps to re-emphasize good drinking and driving behaviour - namely, when one drinks, one mustn't drive."

Some other notable recommendations include: police be given the ability to stop vehicles at random and demand documentation from both young drivers and any supervising driver; implement targeted RIDE or spot-check programs for areas that routinely generate large numbers of young impaired drivers; police be given the ability to demand physical coordination testing of any driver they reasonably suspect has drugs in his or her body; and, more rigorous enforcement of existing liquor laws in licensed establishments.

The issue

Canada has a growing 16-25 year old population, a large majority of which are licensed to drive. Despite the progress that was made in the last 25 years, traffic crashes remain the leading cause of death and serious injury among this age group. In 2004, traffic crashes killed over 780 young people and likely injured another 60,000. A conservative estimate is that over 45% of these deaths are alcohol related - and, although more research is required, it is clear that additional young people are killed in drug-related crashes.

The fact is young people have the highest rates of traffic death and injury both per capita and per kilometre driven, and are dramatically overrepresented in all categories of crash deaths.

This needless loss of life should be a major cause for public concern and a focus for governments' road safety and their alcohol and drug strategies. In order that another generation of young drivers, passengers and pedestrians not be consigned to these preventable losses, it is imperative that a comprehensive approach be taken to curb impaired driving incidents and reduce the number of deaths and injuries caused by alcohol and/or drugs and driving.

The report

MADD Canada's 'Opportunities for Progress' was co-authored by Professors E. Chamberlain and R. Solomon of the Faculty of Law at the University of Western Ontario. The report provides the best recommended legislative reform measures that provincial and territorial governments can implement to reduce traffic crashes among Canadian youth. Co-author Prof. Solomon explains that the provinces have the broad authority over police enforcement powers and practices, civil liability, and the regulation of roads, drivers and vehicle ownership. In addition, the provinces generally control the sale, supply and consumption of alcohol, and the licensing of establishments where alcohol is sold and/or consumed.

Prof. Solomon states: "Provinces have sufficient legislative authority to develop, implement and enforce effective impaired driving policies for youth. In fact, they are in the best position to make the greatest impact on this serious problem."

MADD Canada will undertake in the next six months to visit each jurisdiction to discuss its youth and impaired driving recommendations.

The full report and accompanying background information can be read on-line at www.madd.ca.

For further information, call MADD Canada spokespersons:

Karen Dunham, National President (506) 650-7473
Robert Solomon, Legal Director (co-author of report) (519) 661-3603
Andrew Murie, Chief Executive Officer 1-800-665-6233, ext. 224
/For further information: www.madd.ca/ IN: JUSTICE, POLITICS, TRANSPORT

Contact Information

  • Andrew Murie, Chief Executive Officer
    Primary Phone: 800-665-6233 ext. 224
    E-mail: amurie@madd.ca