SOURCE: MADD Canada

MADD Canada

May 31, 2016 07:00 ET

Drug-Impaired Driving Problem Will Worsen Without New Roadside Testing Measures, MADD Canada Warns Members of Parliament

Organization's Volunteers Meet With MPs to Emphasize Crucial and Growing Need for New Tests to Detect Drug-impaired Drivers

OAKVILLE, ON--(Marketwired - May 31, 2016) -  With drug-impaired driving rates already on the rise and with the legalization of marijuana on the horizon, the need for better testing measures for drugged drivers is greater than ever. MADD Canada representatives will be visiting select Members of Parliament (MPs) on May 31 to deliver that message.

"We want to talk to MPs about the growing drug-impaired driving problem in Canada, and to encourage legislative movement and support for roadside oral fluid testing for drugs," said MADD Canada National President Angeliki Souranis.

Police currently have the authority to demand physical coordination tests (Standard Field Sobriety Test and Drug Recognition Evaluations) if they suspect drug impairment in a driver. But the process requires expensive specialized training, is time-consuming and, most importantly, results in few charges. In 2014, just 2.6% of all impaired driving charges were drug-related. That is just 1,355 charges out of the total 51,637 impaired driving charges laid.

"Our current system for detecting, charging and prosecuting drug-impaired drivers is not working," Ms. Souranis said. "The shortcomings are tragically illustrated by the latest statistics that show drugs are more common than alcohol in fatal motor vehicle crashes."

In its analysis of the latest national statistics, MADD Canada found there were 614 road fatalities in 2012 where a driver had drugs present in their system, compared to 476 fatalities where a driver had alcohol in their system. (For more information, please see: Total Crash Deaths Involving Alcohol and/or Drugs in Canada, By Jurisdiction, 2012.)

"More people are dying in crashes that involve drivers with drugs in their system," said MADD Canada Chief Executive Officer Andrew Murie. "Clearly, better tools and education are required to deter drug-impaired driving."

The technology to conduct simple, inexpensive roadside tests for drugs - similar to the way the breathalyzer device detects alcohol - is already available. Such tests for drugs have been adopted in several Australian states and Western European countries, where they have proven to be effective and cost-efficient.

MADD Canada recommends the federal government adopt new measures to fight drug-impaired driving, including roadside oral fluid testing for drivers and the establishment of driving levels for the most common illicit drugs.

It is especially crucial that the measures be implemented before the Government proceeds with its plan to legalize marijuana.

"There is little doubt that the legalization of marijuana will increase drug-impaired driving rates," Mr. Murie said. "That is why it is critical that effective drug-impaired driving detection tools be put in place now."

Earlier this year, a paper commissioned by MADD Canada examined the availability and accuracy of roadside oral fluid testing for drugs, the approaches used in other countries, and considerations for moving forward with such technology in Canada. The paper, titled A Feasibility Study of Roadside Oral Fluid Testing, was authored by Associate Professor Mark Asbridge and Research Associate Rachel Ogilvie of the Department of Community Health and Epidemiology at Dalhousie University.

About MADD Canada
MADD Canada (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) is a national, charitable organization that is committed to stopping impaired driving and supporting the victims of this violent crime. With volunteer-driven groups in more than 100 communities across Canada, MADD Canada aims to offer support services to victims, heighten awareness of the dangers of impaired driving and save lives and prevent injuries on our roads.

Contact Information

  • For more information, contact:
    Angeliki Souranis
    National President
    514-515-6233
    asouranis@madd.ca

    Andrew Murie
    Chief Executive Officer
    416-720-7642
    amurie@madd.ca