MADD Canada

June 23, 2015 08:00 ET

Provinces Must Step Up Efforts to Reduce Impaired Driving, Concludes New MADD Canada Report

The MADD Canada 2015 Provincial Impaired Driving Report Identifies Short-Comings in Impaired Driving Legislation

OAKVILLE, ON--(Marketwired - June 23, 2015) - Impairment-related crashes remain the leading criminal cause of death in Canada, claiming almost twice as many lives as all forms of homicide combined. Despite that, provinces are failing to implement comprehensive legislative measures that have been proven effective in reducing impaired driving crashes, deaths and injuries, according to MADD Canada's latest review of provincial legislation.

The 2015 Provincial Impaired Driving Report, ( released today, assesses major elements of each province's impaired driving laws and identifies areas where reforms can be made to significantly reduce impaired driving. This is the 6th Provincial Impaired Driving Report compiled by MADD Canada. Previous versions were published in 2012, 2009, 2006, 2003 and 2000.

"Canadian and international research have identified best practices in impaired driving legislation which will reduce impairment-related crashes, deaths and injuries," said MADD Canada Chief Executive Officer Andrew Murie. "It is disappointing that provinces have not adopted these measures in full. Instead, they are implementing them in piecemeal fashion, or not at all."

The 2015 Provincial Impaired Driving Report assesses provincial impaired driving laws based on 20 criteria within four categories of impaired driving legislation: Graduated Licensing Programs (GLPs) and Extended .00% BAC Limits; Short-Term Roadside .05% BAC Administrative Licence Suspension (ALS) Programs; Drug-Related Short-Term Roadside ALS Programs; and Interlock Programs for Federal Impaired Driving Offenders.

"We found that most provinces have legislation that addresses, to some extent, the assessment criteria of the report, but key elements of comprehensive and effective programs are often missing, and much of the legislation needs to be strengthened," stated the report's lead author, Robert Solomon, a Distinguished University Professor in the Faculty of Law at Western University, and Director of Legal Policy for MADD Canada.

Provincial Rankings
A maximum of 25 points was available to each province for meeting the assessment criteria. The total point tally was used to assess the provinces' performance individually and to rank the provinces, as outlined here:

  Points % out of 100 Grade
Alberta 17 68% C+
British Columbia 15 60% C-
Ontario 15 60% C-
Nova Scotia 14 56% D
Prince Edward Island 14 56% D
Saskatchewan 13 52% D-
Manitoba 12 48% F+
Newfoundland and Labrador 12 48% F+
New Brunswick 11 44% F
Québec 11 44% F

*The 2015 Impaired Driving Report provides provincial scores out of 25. Percentages and grades have been tabulated based on those results.

Alberta Achieves Highest Score
Alberta led all provinces, with a score of 17 out of 25, based on the strength of its recently updated short-term roadside suspensions and vehicle impoundments for drivers with BACs of .05% and higher, and its interlock program for individuals convicted of federal impaired driving offences.

Still, areas for improvement remain, including: increasing the minimum driving age to 16; extending the .00% BAC requirement for all drivers to three years beyond the completion of the GLP; introducing a prohibition on any illicit drugs for all GLP drivers, similar to the .00% BAC requirement that these drivers are subject to; and a minimum 24-hour licence suspension for drivers reasonably believed to be impaired by a drug, based on failing a standard field sobriety test.

Québec and New Brunswick Have Lowest Scores
Québec and New Brunswick had the lowest scores, with just 11 out of 25.

In Québec, the relatively good results achieved on its GLP and extended .00% BAC for new drivers were negated by the province's lack of any ALS program, and shortcomings in its interlock and drug-impaired driving legislation.

New Brunswick scored reasonably well on its GLP and its extended BAC requirement for drivers beyond the GLP. However it scored poorly on its interlock program, which is not currently mandatory for all federal impaired driving offenders, and its ALS program, which does not include a provision for short-term vehicle impoundment.

Pending Legislation
There is positive news with respect to New Brunswick's impaired driving laws. The Government has indicated, in recent meetings with MADD Canada, it is looking at making some significant changes and improvements to its legislation in the near future.

Three other provinces -- Ontario, Prince Edward Island and Manitoba -- have introduced legislation within the past few weeks to strengthen various impaired driving laws. While these changes are not reflected in the current report, they will, when proclaimed and enacted, strengthen each provinces' impaired driving laws.

Drug-Impaired Driving Legislation Lagging Behind
The 2015 report shows how little legislation is in place provincially to address the problem of drug-impaired drivers. Very few provinces have short-term licence suspensions for drug-impaired drivers, and no province currently has a prohibition in its GLP to ban illicit drugs for beginning drivers.

Absence of Territories Ratings
In previous years, MADD Canada included the Territories in its legislative review, particularly when impaired driving statistics and rates were included in the review and assessment process. For this review, however, which is based entirely on legislative performance, the decision was made not to include the Territories. Nevertheless, it is worth noting that the impaired driving legislation in the territories has lagged behind that of the provinces and requires a major overhaul.

"Clearly, more needs to be done if Canada is to reduce the human and financial toll taken by impaired driving," said Mr. Murie. "We hope the 2015 Provincial Impaired Driving Report is a starting point for discussions within the provinces on how they can strengthen their legislation and make their roads safer."

Contact Information

  • For more information:
    Andrew Murie
    MADD Canada
    Chief Executive Officer
    1-800-665-6233, ext. 224