PANS-08

POLICE ASSOCIATION OF NOVA SCOTIA 85 Despite the progress that was made between 1980 and the mid-90s, traffic crashes remain the largest cause of death among 15-24 year old Canadians, accounting for 31% of their deaths in 2003.* Young people have the highest rates of traffic death and injury per capita among all age groups, and the highest death rate per kilometre driven among all drivers under 75 years of age. In 2004, traffic crashes killed 695 young people and injured another 53,600. Even conservatively estimated, over 45% of these deaths were alcohol related. Although more research is required, it is clear that an additional percentage of youth crash deaths are drug related. The projected increase in Canada’s youth population over the next five years will, in and of itself, increase impairment-related traffic deaths and injuries among 15-24 year olds. Thus, effective action is required to achieve even the very modest goal of preventing the number of such deaths and injuries from increasing. The purpose of this study is to provide a broad survey of legislative measures that the provincial and territorial governments can implement to better protect young Canadians. We have taken a broader perspective than some earlier studies. First, we have examined the problem in terms of not only beginning drivers (1619 year olds), but also young adult drivers (20-24 year olds). Second, we have defined the youth crash problem as encompassing pedestrians, cyclists, and operators of snowmobiles and ATVs, as well as drivers and passengers. Third, while the majority of the report deals with alcohol-related crashes, we have also addressed the apparently increasing rates of drug-impaired driving. Fourth, in addition to recommendations relating directly to driving, we have proposed measures to reduce the hazardous patterns of alcohol and drug consumption that generate impairment-related crash deaths among youth. In preparing our recommendations, we have been cognizant of the likely level of public and political support for various measures, as this is often a critical factor in determining if proposed reforms will be enacted. Thus, our recommendations draw heavily on current best practices in Canada and other similar democracies. We have also taken into account the requirements of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Since any law that is found to be in violation of the Charter will be struck down, our recommendations have been drafted to accord with Charter values. The report is divided into five sections. The first provides the detailed statistical background upon which the remainder of the report is based. Among other things, information has been provided on the number of young drivers, patterns of alcohol and drug use among youth, characteristics of youth crashes, statistics on total youth crashes, and statistics on alcohol and/or drug involvement in these crashes. Young people have the highest reported rates of drug use, and weekly, monthly and total binge drinking (typically defined as consuming five or more standard drinks on a single occasion). They also have high rates of driving after drinking and drug use, and of being a passenger of a driver who has been drinking or taking drugs. Young people exhibit driving characteristics that greatly increase their crash risks. Beginning drivers are immature, and lack both driving experience and the skills necessary to avoid potentially hazardous situations. Young people, particularly males, tend to be risk takers, in that they have relatively high rates of speeding and aggressive driving, and lower rates of seatbelt use. It is young people’s patterns of alcohol and drug consumption, coupled with their driving behaviours, that explain why they are dramatically overrepresented in all categories of * The studies we refer to in this report did not use the same age groupings for young people. While many sources divided the youth population into 16-19 and 20-24 year olds, others used a 15-19 and 20-24 year old grouping. Finally, some of the data were reported in terms of 16-19 and 20-25 year olds. Youth and Impaired Driving in Canada: Opportunities for Progress continued...

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