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POLICE ASSOCIATION OF NOVA SCOTIA 57 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 Drunk Driving - Progress and Problems The Future The rate of impaired driving incidents dropped four per cent in 2002, resuming its 20-year downward trend after a small increase in 2001, according to a November 2003 report from the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics. • The rate of impaired driving incidents reported by police was 65 per cent lower than its peak in 1981. • The number of deaths and injuries related to impaired driving have gone down by almost half since 1986 despite increasing numbers of drivers and vehicles. • Impaired driving accounted for about 12 per cent of all cases heard in court, making it the largest category of offences (53,000 out of a total 452,000). • Impaired driving also had the highest conviction rate - 73 per cent, compared to 60 per cent for all Criminal Code offences. The Canada Safety Council credits the progress to several factors: strong commitment from all the stakeholders; changing attitudes and behaviours with respect to drinking and driving; effective public education and public awareness programs; and the level of police enforcement. The countryʼs aging population is another factor in the downward trend. Seniors over age 65 have the lowest rates of impaired driving. Who are the drunk drivers? According to a national survey on drinking and driving released in December 2005 by the Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF), 15 per cent of Canadian drivers reported driving a vehicle within two hours of consuming alcohol in the past 30 days. The survey estimates that an alarming 1.5 million drivers drove when they thought they were impaired, of which 16 per cent (about 2.3 per cent of all drivers) said they did so four or more times. Based on the findings, TIRF estimates that only three per cent of drivers account for 84 per cent of reported impaired driving trips in Canada. This is in line with a large body of research which shows that a small minority of drinking drivers accounts for most of Canadaʼs impaired driving problem. Younger drivers continued to show the highest rates of impaired driving. Data from 94 police departments found drivers aged 19 to 24 represent 56 per cent of all reported criminal incidents. The Justice statistics show the rate of impaired driving peaks at age 21. The TIRF survey found that drivers aged 25 to 34 are most likely to report they have taken the wheel after drinking . Younger drivers and chronic drinking drivers must remain a major target in efforts to eradicate impaired driving. Canadaʼs national strategy In Canada there is no national law covering all aspects of drinking and driving. This is because in our federal system, different levels of government have responsibility for different aspects of the problem. The Constitution of Canada defines the powers of the federal and provincial or territorial levels of government. continued...

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