MADD Canada

MADD Canada

October 23, 2014 14:32 ET

Nova Scotia's Proposed Legislation Will Improve Safety for New and Young Drivers, Says MADD Canada

OAKVILLE, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Oct. 23, 2014) - MADD Canada welcomes proposed legislation, announced by the Government of Nova Scotia today, to improve the safety of new drivers and reduce impaired driving.

If passed, the proposed legislation would require all new drivers to maintain a .00% BAC level when driving for two years after completion of the Graduated Driver's Licence (GDL) program.

"Extending the zero BAC requirement for young and new drivers beyond the driver training period is a proven effective way of reducing impaired driving and improving road safety," said MADD Canada Chief Executive Officer Andrew Murie. "This new legislation will help reduce the incidence of impaired driving, and will help new and young drivers establish good driving practices that separate drinking from driving."

Young drivers are over-represented in impaired driving crashes. Studies show they are more likely to speed, follow too closely, allow less time to merge with traffic, cross traffic lanes, and over-estimate their driving skills. They also have high rates of driving after drinking and drug use, and of being a passenger of a driver who has been drinking or taking drugs.

Further, young and novice drivers tend to be risk takers and are less cautious than their older counterparts. So, even in the absence of alcohol, these drivers are at a greater relative risk of crash than older, more experienced drivers. When alcohol is added to the equation, the risks become significantly higher.

Nearly all provinces and territories have a .00% BAC restriction for young and novice drivers, but it is usually lifted when the driver completes the GDL. That usually occurs around the age of 18 or 19, which corresponds to the legal drinking age in most jurisdictions and is a time when alcohol and binge drinking increase. Since 2000, MADD Canada has promoted a broad package of drivers licensing and enforcement initiatives to address the crash problem among youth. These include comprehensive GDLs and .00% BAC limit for all drivers under 21 or with less than five years driving experience.

Several other provinces have extended their BAC requirements beyond their GDLs. Ontario and Quebec, for example, require drivers 21 years of age and under to maintain a .00% BAC. The Nova Scotia proposal goes further by extending the 2-year .00% BAC requirement to all new drivers, regardless of age.

"We applaud Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal Geoff MacLellan and the Government of Nova Scotia for their leadership on this, and look forward to this important measure being passed and enacted. We believe it will have a real and positive impact on the safety of new drivers and improve overall safety on the province's roads," said Mr. Murie.

Other components of Nova Scotia's proposed legislation include enhancements to the GDL, and an option for certain drivers with lifetime driving bans to regain their licence by meeting strict criteria and agreeing to install a permanent alcohol ignition interlock on their vehicle.

While MADD Canada supports the use of life-time driving bans for chronic repeat offenders, it also recognizes that there may be instances where a driver has changed his or her behaviour appropriately, and may have certain circumstances that might warrant consideration of a second chance at licensure. Many banned drivers often continue to drive anyway and when they do, they are outside the insurance system. Having an option for certain drivers to regain their licence with the use of a permanent interlock ensures that person will drive without the risk of impairment and will operate within the driver's licencing and insurance systems.

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. For more information, visit www.madd.ca.

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