To address recent and concerning increases in self-reported impaired driving and promote safer choices, the Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF) and Diageo North America have partnered to establish the Impaired Driving Coalition of Canada (IDCC).
In Canada, the pandemic has contributed to increases in drinking and driving and other risk-taking behaviours on the roads. The coalition will combine knowledge and expertise of member organizations, along with innovative educational resources to guide the development of a national action plan aimed at preventing impaired driving. It will be a priority for the IDCC to increase public awareness and help drivers recognise the risks associated with driving after drinking. A broader cross-section of organisations will be engaged as part of this initiative including Desjardins, Safer Roads Alliance, Saskatchewan Government Insurance, Toronto Police Service, Canadian Automobile Association, and the Victoria Police Department.
Robyn Robertson, TIRF President & CEO commented “There is a widespread misperception that lower traffic volumes resulting from the large-scale shift towards working from home have made roads safer… However, the lower traffic volumes were short-lived and unfortunately encouraged extreme risk-taking, leading to fewer crashes but greater crash severity and a larger number of fatalities. What is most concerning is that despite traffic volumes returning to near-normal levels, this risk-taking has remained.”
As part of its contribution, Diageo North America is providing educational resources such as Wrong Side of the Road, an online platform developed in partnership with the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) to increase awareness and stigmatize impaired driving.
The number of Canadians killed in road crashes involving a drinking driver has generally declined during the past two decades, but in 2018 there were still 466 people killed by a drinking driver. This represents almost one in four road deaths.Similarly, the percentage of drivers who self-reported driving within two hours of drinking has decreased since 2009. However, since 2019, the percentage of drivers admitting to drinking any amount of alcohol before driving has increased and the percentage of drivers who self-reported driving when they thought they were over the legal limit in the past 12 months has also increased since 2018. 9.7% of drivers reported doing this in 2021.
IDCC will develop resources and tools to address specific topics in the action plan to complement other existing resources such as Diageo’s Wrong Side of the Road programme.