MADD Canada

MADD Canada

June 07, 2006 09:32 ET

Ontario Government urged to review impaired driving laws

Ontario needs to thoroughly review its impaired driving laws -- MADD Canada hopes new Transportation Minister will prompt action and not be satisfied with the status quo Attention: News Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor OAKVILLE, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - June 7, 2006) - Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD Canada) is pleased that Premier Dalton McGuinty has shuffled his Transportation Minister - a move it believes could signal that the 'status quo' is no longer acceptable when it comes to the Government's reaction to drinking and driving on Ontario's roads. MADD Canada has high hopes that Transportation Minister Donna Cansfield will pay heed to potential road safety policies and legislation that can significantly reduce the numbers killed and injured as a result of impaired driving.

"The previous Minister's public statements created a far more positive impression of the impaired driving situation in Ontario than is warranted," says Andrew Murie, MADD Canada's Chief Executive Officer. "While Manitoba and other jurisdictions are introducing progressive legislation to sustain the progress made in the 1980s thru mid-1990s, Ontario has been content to herald its past successes and ignore its current impaired driving problem."

The CEO explained that former Transportation Minister Harinder Takhar liked to quote decade-old statistics to make his argument. For example, Minister Takhar was quoted on cbc.ca on May 9th saying, "Between 1988 and 2003, the number of alcohol-related crashes plummeted in Ontario to 91 from 248." MADD Canada takes exception to this assertion. While this statement refers to all alcohol-related crashes, the statistics quoted are for the number of legally-impaired, fatally-injured drivers. It should be noted that crashes involving legally-impaired, fatally-injured drivers represent only a tiny fraction of the total number of alcohol elated crashes. In any event, the Minister's statement about the trend in legally-impaired, fatally-injured drivers is, at best, misleading. While considerable progress was made between 1987 and 1996, there has been virtually no improvement in the interim. In fact, the number of legally-impaired, fatally-injured drivers rose between 2002 and 2003, the latest year for which data is available.

Mr. Murie says, "Mr. Takhar's statements were very troubling for he significantly overstated the decline in the number of legally-impaired, fatally-injured drivers in Ontario. The Minister stated that the number decreased from 248 to 91 between 1988 and 2003, or, in other words by 272%. However, the Traffic Injury Research Foundation reported that the actual number of legally-impaired, fatally-injured drivers in Ontario fell from 175 to 108 in this period, or by only 162%."

"While MADD Canada recognizes the progress that was made between 1988 and 1996, it is important to recognize that virtually no progress has been made since then," says Mr. Murie. "We have not seen any real action by the Ontario Government on the impaired driving file since 1997. It is time that the Ontario Government thoroughly reviews the province's impaired driving laws. Frankly, this Government needs to focus more on improving traffic safety and less on public relations."

"Impaired driving remains, by far, the single largest criminal cause of death in Canada. Even conservatively estimated, alcohol and/or drug-impaired driving in Canada resulted in over 1,250 deaths and 74,000 injuries in 2003," and adds Mr. Murie, "with these kind of numbers, the crime of impaired driving is nothing to be complacent about - the status quo is not acceptable."

MADD Canada last month released Opportunities for Progress, a policy options document focused on young drivers and impaired driving. For more information about MADD Canada's recent policy announcements, both in Winnipeg and Toronto, visit the news pages at www.madd.ca (releases dated May 16 - 17, 2006).

/For further information: www.madd.ca
Robert Solomon, Legal Director (519) 661-3603/ IN: POLITICS

Contact Information

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