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Drunk driving numbers falling in Vancouver

Last Updated Jan 16, 2016 at 7:59 am PDT

(iStock Photo)

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – There appears to be a downward trend when it comes to the number of drunk drivers on some local roads and there is one police force specifically that has seen a consistent decrease.

In Vancouver, the number of Immediate Roadside Prohibition’s (IRP) has been going down year over year. In all of 2015, there were more than 1,000, but that’s down by almost 300 compared to 2013, which Constable Brian Montague says is still way too many, but it’s progress.

“It doesn’t surprise me we’re pulling over a lot of people that are drinking and getting behind the wheel of a car. It’s unfortunate that people think they can drink and drive and do it safely because they can’t. We have proven time and time again with serious injuries and deaths on the road that you can’t. Our officers are going to collisions involving people who have had too much to drink and haven’t made arrangements for a safe ride home. They’re injuring and killing people on our roads and it’s important that they understand that. By having a drink or multiple drinks and getting behind the wheel of your car, you’re putting everybody at risk.”

He’s confident some people are getting the message and says police across the region will continue to push enforcement and education. “And there are those, unfortunately, who regardless of the laws or the education are going to choose to drink and drive. We would ask that people phone the police if they see someone who is impaired and either behind the wheel or going to get behind the wheel so we can try and prevent them from doing that.”

Even with the distracted driving laws in BC, you are allowed to dial 911 if you feel another driver on the road may be impaired.

“If someone else has made a poor decision to drink and drive, we would hope someone seeing that makes a good decision and picks up the phone and calls us. You can phone the police and tell them you’re behind someone who you think is drunk because they’re driving in a matter that’s dangerous to others,” explains Montague.

So, what’s behind the drop in the overall numbers?

“The new drinking and driving laws have definitely shown stats that indicate it’s saving lives. I like to say that people are educated and aware that drinking and driving is dangerous, not acceptable and that more people are finding a safer way home. Again, we are still seeing a very large number of drivers on our road that are drinking and drinking fairly heavily and getting behind the wheel.”

“IRP’s are set to a standard where when we’re giving out an IRP and seizing licenses and vehicles — these aren’t people that have had a drink, these are people that have had multiple drinks.”

“People have a lot of excuses. They say, ‘I don’t want to leave my car downtown,’ ‘I couldn’t get a taxi,’ ‘It’s my friend’s car and he was too drunk to drive — I’m less drunk,’ ‘I drive better,’ which you hear often with drug impaired drivers. We hear every excuse in the book.”

The number of prohibitions doesn’t include those impaired by drugs which Montague adds they see often.

“We see every type of drug being used — both legal and illegal, and it’s just as dangerous. When you have someone who is on a prescription drug that causes them to be drowsy or have slow reflexes, they’re a danger to others on the road. They’re a hazard on the road. Illegal drugs are the same thing — if someone is on cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines, marijuana — we see it all — they too are a hazard.”

Police understand the number of IRP’s is high but want people to understand that it’s unrealistic to do CounterAttack campaigns year-round.

“It boils down to resources. We just don’t have the resources to put out road blocks every day. We don’t have enough police officers to do it. There is not enough money to do that.”
There is hope the numbers will continue to fall in 2016, but Montague says only time will tell.

Vancouver Police Statistics:

  • 1,030 IRP’s in 2015 (145 in December with 95 of those at CounterAttack road blocks)
  • 1,030 IRP’s in 2015 (145 in December with 95 of those at CounterAttack road blocks)
  • 1,100 in 2014
  • 1,317 in 2013