Hot summer weather calls for cool summer drinks, but a few too many could land you in the back seat of a squad car – or worse, dead.
To combat the number of fatal crashes involving impaired driving that tend to increase in the summer months, Saanich Police are stepping up their CounterAttack program, joining forces with Victoria Police, the CRD Integrated Road Safety Unit and ICBC. Throughout the summer, police will be conducting roadchecks in Greater Victoria and throughout the province to locate, identify and charge impaired drivers.
“Road safety is critical for a safe community and we rely heavily on our community in our fight against impaired drivers,” said Sgt. John Price, Saanich Police Traffic Safety Unit supervisor.
“We respond daily to reports of possible impaired drivers, and those calls come from the public. They’re sick of the carnage that results from impaired drivers, and the adage is always how ironic it’s never the impaired driver going to the morgue or the hospital.”
Impaired driving is the leading cause of criminal death in Canada and remains one of the top three contributing factors for fatal crashes in B.C. According to ICBC, one person is killed every three days in impaired-related crashes in B.C. during the summer months.
On average, 36 people die every summer in B.C. as a result of impaired driving, with a spike in incidents on weekends. This year’s campaign kicked off on July 1 – a historically notorious day for traffic accidents as residents travel to and from Canada Day celebrations – and police will be in full force this coming B.C. Day weekend watching for impaired drivers.
“Statistically, we see a huge increase in incidents of impaired driving on Friday, Saturday, Sunday,” said Price. “It’s the weekend, so you have tourists in town and the TGIF crowd that wants to cut loose and de-stress after a long week.
“We still have that percentage of the public that think they’re immune to it or think it’s never going to happen to them, or they’re risk takers.”
Price noted there is an endless number of options for getting home safely after a night of drinking, such as taking transit, calling a cab or co-ordinating a designated driver.
“Today, unlike 20 years ago, you have the internet and cellphones, you can book rides and car services that get you and your car home for $10 more than a cab ride,” he said. “There’s just so many reasons that people shouldn’t be doing it at all.”
While the police will be on the lookout, Price also said it’s important for the public to continue reporting suspected impaired drivers, and for parents to discuss the dangers of getting behind the wheel while intoxicated.
“It’s everybody’s responsibility,” he said. “It’s not just the driver, it’s the other people in the car – the brothers, sisters, co-workers, moms and dads talking to their kids and raising their kids properly.
“It’s a community effort to stamp out impaired driving.”