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John Ducker: Numbers demonstrate the risks of impaired driving

A by-the-numbers perspective on why we need to keep drinking and drugged drivers off our roads.

Dec. 2 marked the kick-off of this year’s impaired driving CounterAttack efforts in B.C.

Why do we need to keep being reminded about this? Well here’s one small example from Courtenay: On Nov. 4 RCMP highway patrol members there nabbed 7 people, including a youth on a learners’ licence, for drinking and driving in just 5 ½ hours.

People need constant reminding. Most research I’ve uncovered shows that the best way to tackle driver safety issues, including impairment, is through a combination of education and enforcement.

So as part of the education piece, here’s a by-the-numbers perspective on why we need to keep drinking and drugged drivers off our roads.

4: That’s the number of Canadians killed on our roads every day by impaired drivers. Another 175 people are injured. That’s roughly 1,500 killed every year with another 64,000 injured. It amounts to twice the number of people killed by homicide each year in Canada.

15 to 34: The statistical average age range of an impaired driver in this country. Vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for people aged 16 to 25 and 55% of those crashes involved drugs or alcohol.

10.5: The percentage of Canadians who admitted to the Traffic Injury Research Foundation they had driven when they believed they were over the limit last year. This is the highest level reported in more than two decades. It’s also a concern that one-third of those answering this survey reported that they had been drinking with close friends prior to driving.

20,000: The number of police officers now trained in procedures to use standard field sobriety testing in Canada. SFST data are now collected by more jurisdictions than in previous years, showing significant results at screening drivers who may have recently used cannabis according to Public Safety Canada’s 2022 annual report on impaired driving trends.

10: The number of penalty points you will receive for a criminal code impaired driving conviction. This also means that ICBC will charge you a penalty $1,108 premium that you are still required to pay whether or not you renew your insurance or no longer own your vehicle.

$50.50: The dollars and cents amount it will cost you for a cab ride from downtown Victoria to Bear Mountain in Langford, according to the website As opposed to the average cost of having an ignition interlock installed in your vehicle — currently around $2,000 — cab fare doesn’t seem that expensive.

15: The number of years a Nova Scotia man was sentenced to prison for being the “worst of the worst” impaired driver in Canada. Terrance Naugel, 62, was sentenced in 2021 after pleading guilty to eight charges of impaired driving. Naugel racked up 71 criminal convictions in his life, including being caught for impaired 3 times in the 7 months prior to his latest court case. According to the public prosecution service the sentence is a record for Nova Scotia and most likely all of Canada.

Glove Box: Tamara emailed recently to remind drivers about using smaller residential streets as shortcuts. Commuters always manage to find a way to get around a busy intersection. Often they cut through residential streets ill-designed for large traffic volumes. It’s especially galling when they disobey controls like “Do Not Enter” or “No Left Turn” signs meant to limit access onto these smaller streets. Residents having to jump out of the way so a driver can shave 30 seconds off the trip home isn’t cool.

Mike wrote that he disagrees with me on the value of head’s up displays as a modern safety feature. His Kia Soul makes it easier to monitor speed by having the numbers right in front of him, which also change colour as speed increases. His display also includes a “vehicle in your blind spot” warning. It’s been a while since I drove a vehicle equipped with these features, which I found more distracting than having just a simple clear view of the road in front. But I can’t deny that those blind spot warning features are a good idea.

Finally, Tom reminded me about the importance of monitoring your tire pressure as the weather cools. Pressures in a tire can drop 1 psi for every drop of 5 degrees centigrade now that winter is nearly upon us. Good-performing tires, designed for winter road conditions, are essential with the wild changes mother nature often unloads on us this time of year.

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