OAKVILLE, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Feb. 14, 2013) - MADD Canada is taking aim of one of the most frequent and erroneous criticisms of BC's Immediate Roadside Prohibition (IRP) program.
Key among the criticisms of the IRP has been the suggestion that sanctions at the lower BAC levels unfairly target safe drivers while ignoring those at the highest BAC levels. Such criticism fails to recognize two well-researched facts: low-BAC sanctions have a positive impact on drivers across all BAC levels, and driving ability is impaired with even small amounts of alcohol.
"It's a fallacy to say these laws have no impact on drivers at the highest BAC categories," said MADD Canada Chief Executive Officer Andrew Murie. "These sanctions don't work in isolation. They impact drivers in the low BAC ranges but they are also extremely effective at changing the drinking and driving behaviours of those drivers with the highest BAC levels."
In fact, quite often, the most significant impact is seen among that category of drivers with the highest BACs. For example, when the Australian Capital Territory lowered its BAC limit to .05%, crash involvement of drivers with BACS of .15% to .19% fell by 31%, and by 46% among drivers with BACs of .20% and above.
With respect to the impact of a .05% BAC on driving ability, research has shown that drivers at that level have reduced coordination, reduced ability to track moving objects, difficulty steering and reduced response to emergency situations.
"Drivers with high BAC levels are over-represented when we look at the number of fatally-injured impaired drivers," Mr. Murie said. "But that doesn't mean it's safe to ignore those driving at lower BAC levels. Drivers in the .05% to .09% BAC range are 9 times more likely to crash than sober drivers. Given that increased crash risk and given the impact of a .05% BAC on driving ability, who would want to be in a car with that driver, or on the road beside him or her?"
The low BAC sanctions also have an important rehabilitative aspect which is often ignored. By identifying those drivers who have drinking and driving problems early, they can be provided with the opportunity to change their behaviours before they become re-offenders or high-BAC drivers.
Since the introduction of BC's IRP program in 2010, the province has seen a reduction in impaired driving deaths of 46% compared to the average in each of the previous five years. The reduction represents an estimated 104 lives saved.
"These results are significant and have not been seen with other similar programs anywhere in the world," Mr. Murie said. "The IRP may require some changes and some fine-tuning but that is certainly worth the effort considering how effectively the law is reducing impaired driving in BC."