MADD Canada

MADD Canada

March 06, 2012 10:00 ET

Time for Canada to Get Serious About Reducing Impaired Driving

OAKVILLE, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - March 6, 2012) - Two and a half years after the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights unanimously recommended random breath testing (RBT) legislation, Canadians are still waiting for the life-saving measure.

In its 2012 Federal Legislative Review, MADD Canada once again calls on Parliament to get serious about reducing impaired driving and introduce comprehensive RBT legislation. (The full report is available in the Resource Library on MADD Canada's web site at www.madd.ca.)

"Impaired driving is a crime that claims well over one and a half times as many lives each year as all types of homicide combined," said MADD Canada National President Denise Dubyk. "Over one thousand Canadians are killed and tens of thousands are injured each year in impaired driving crashes. International research and experience clearly establish RBT as an effective countermeasure that could reduce these deaths and injuries by 20%. Yet, we're still waiting."

Canada's impaired driving record is poor by international standards, said the Report's co-author, Robert Solomon, Professor, Faculty of Law at the University of Western Ontario and MADD Canada's Director of Legal Policy.

"We have a relatively low rate of per capita alcohol consumption, yet one of the highest rates of alcohol-related crash deaths," Professor Solomon said. "For example, while Germans consumed 20% more alcohol per capita than Canadians in 2008, less than 12% of their traffic fatalities were alcohol-related. In contrast, over 39% of Canadian traffic fatalities were alcohol-related in that year. On a per capita basis, Canada's rate of alcohol-related crash death was more than five times that of Germany."

"Put simply, most comparable countries are doing a far better job than Canada in separating drinking from driving," Professor Solomon added. "It's no coincidence that almost all of those countries have lower criminal BAC limits than Canada and comprehensive RBT programs."

RBT would authorize the police to demand a roadside breath sample from all drivers stopped at sobriety checkpoints, greatly increasing the number of drivers screened and thus our law's deterrent impact. The current law is not an effective deterrent because the likelihood of being stopped, charged and convicted is very low. Survey, criminal charge and conviction data indicate that a person would have to drive impaired, on average, once a week for more than 3 years before being charged with an impaired driving offence, and for over 6 years before ever being convicted.

"The great majority of comparable democracies have RBT programs in place," said Andrew Murie, MADD Canada's Chief Executive Officer. "Canada is clearly out of step with other countries, and needs to do more to reduce impaired driving deaths and injuries."

Not only is RBT a proven measure for reducing impaired driving, it is highly cost-effective and already has considerable public support in Canada:

  • Jurisdictions that have introduced RBT programs achieved significant, sustained reductions in impaired driving and alcohol-related deaths and injuries;

  • A 2010 Ipsos Reid poll indicated 77% of Canadians would support RBT;

  • A recent MADD Canada study estimated the costs savings of RBT to be approximately $4.3 billion a year.

RBT will inevitably be challenged under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. However, like the 109 million random searches at airports, the 52 million random searches at borders and the countless random searches at the entrances to courtrooms and many other government buildings conducted each year, RBT is wholly compatible with the Charter. This opinion is shared by legal experts, including Canada's leading constitutional law scholar.

RBT will not be a major inconvenience for drivers. Drivers remain seated in their cars, and the breath test itself takes approximately 30 seconds. Consequently, RBT will result in stops of approximately the same duration as the current sobriety checkpoints.

"Our government has an opportunity to dramatically reduce the deaths and injuries resulting from impaired driving," Mr. Murie said. "It is time for RBT in Canada."

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.

Contact Information