POLICE ASSOCIATION OF NOVA SCOTIA 49 Alcohol-Crash Stats In 1998, the total number of alcohol-related crash deaths nation-wide dropped below 1,000 for the first time since statistics have been available. Between 1988 and 2001, Ontario drinking and driving fatalities dropped by over half, from 439 to 204. According to Transport Canada's report The Alcohol-Crash Problem in Canada: 2000, a total of 981 people died in alcohol-related crashes in 2000. This includes off-road vehicles, as well as pedestrians with alcohol in their blood. • Out of 420 pedestrian fatalities, 38 per cent of those tested for alcohol had been drinking, and most of these had BACs over 0.08. • Almost nine out of every 10 people killed in alcohol-related collisions (87.4 per cent) were in or on the drinking driver's vehicle (i.e. drivers/operators or passengers). • Almost nine out of every 10 drivers killed in alcohol-related collisions (87.5 per cent) were male. • Of all injured snowmobile operators who were killed, 62 per cent had been drinking, as had 49 per cent of the deceased operators of other off-road vehicles. • Over half (56 per cent) of the drivers killed in single-vehicle crashes tested positive for alcohol, compared to only 20 per cent of those killed in multiple-vehicle crashes. Drinking and driving is a subset of alcohol-related crashes. In 2000, road crashes involving a driver who had been drinking killed 864 people, representing almost 30 per cent of all road fatalities. This is down by one-third from 1995, when 1,296 motor vehicle deaths involved a drinking driver. Of the drinking-driving road fatalities, almost half (422) were drivers whose blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was over 0.08. In contrast, the United States has seen no substantial change in drink-driving fatalities over the past few years. In 1995, traffic fatalities involving a drinking driver represented 42 per cent of road fatalities (17,732 deaths); in 2000, they represented 41 per cent (17,380 deaths). Relatively few chronic hard core drinking drivers are responsible for most of the drunk driving problem in this country. High-BAC drivers (i.e. those with BACs over 0.15) represent about one per cent of the cars on the road at night and on weekends. Yet they account for nearly half of all drivers killed at those times. The hard core drinking driver is the biggest challenge to further progress. Most provinces provide assessment and rehabilitation programs to prevent impaired drivers from continuing to endanger the public. Ontario's remedial measures program started in September 1998. According to a May 2003 report, of the approximately 21,000 convicted impaired drivers who had gone through it, only 23 of the graduates had to repeat the course due to a subsequent conviction. Provinces are also introducing alcohol ignition interlock, a small breath-testing unit linked to the ignition system. To operate the vehicle, the driver must provide a breath sample. The device, installed at the offender's expense, reduces recidivism by as much as 90 per cent while in use. When combined with rehabilitation, interlock is a very effective countermeasure. In December 2002, Manitoba introduced a new law believed to be the toughest of its kind in North America. The government will seize and sell the vehicles of repeat drunk drivers. The statistics show that Canada's approach to impaired driving is working. Criminal sanctions, combined with provincial and territorial countermeasures, are deterring people from drinking and driving. Canada is a leader in the fight against impaired driving, but we cannot be complacent. Resources and hard work are needed to achieve further reductions. Updates In 2004, police reported about 79,000 incidents of impaired driving. The 2004 rate was stable compared to 2003, and 33 percent lower than a decade prior. In 2003, road crashes involving a driver who had been drinking killed 902 people, of which half (450) were drivers who were legally impaired. In a 2005 survey 6.7 percent of drivers said they had driven in the past year when they felt they were over the legal limit. That translates into 1.5 million drivers and over 7.8 million trips. Updated May 2006 © 2006 Canada Safety Council Canada Safety Council C A N A D A ’ S V O I C E A N D R E S O U R C E F O R S A F E T Y