Drinking and driving, eh?

Are more Canadians drinking and driving?

There has been a new poll done by the Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF) which shows that Canadians may be changing their habits regarding driving after drinking.

The public opinion poll was conducted in September to determine how many Canadians drove after drinking in the last year.

When questioned about the past 30 days 19% of Canadians polled admitted to driving after consuming any amount of alcohol. Unfortunately this is a consistent increase since 2005. From this we can see that Canadians are more forthcoming about having something to drink and then driving.

Another question asked was who will drink and drive when they are likely over the limit? In 2007 the answer was 8.2%. In 2008 it dropped to 5.2%. This year about 5.6% admitted to driving when they are likely over the legal limit. These percentages reflect behaviour over the 12 month period.

It could be due to the stress of the past year has created more opportunities for drinking and driving. It could also be partly due to the passage of Bill C-2 and the media attention it received. After this type

In 2007 there were 863 Canadians killed in a traffic crash involving a drinking driver. This shows an increase since 2004. One has to bear in mind that the numbers were much higher in 1995 with 1,296 killed with 815 killed in 2004.

Canadians rank drinking and driving as the most important concern of all road safety issues. There was great progress in reducing numbers during the 1990s but this trend has slowed in recent years.

The poll revealed 5.1% of the people polled (1.7 million people in total) admitted to riding as a passenger with a driver who had been drinking within the last 30 days. Worse yet, some 6.6% of the respondents (2.2 million people) admitted to riding as a passenger in a vehicle driven by someone who has been drinking on two or more such occasions.

Even a small amount of alcohol can affect your driving ability. We all remember the commercial with the glasses of liquor stacking in front of us making it increasingly harder to see. The vision was slightly impaired at the first glass. It is interesting to note that most Canadians want to see programs, penalties and the use of technology to try to prevent and punish drinking and driving.

Remember, two standard drinks in combination with a normal dose of tranquilizer can make you just as drunk as if you had six drinks. Two standard drinks and some marijuana can make you as drunk as if you had five drinks. Be aware that mixing drugs and alcohol even if it is an "over the counter" drug can have a strong effect on your ability to drive.

To find out how your province ranks under the regional report about drinking and drinking please click here.