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Impaired driving still a major problem among youngest drivers in BC

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VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Have you had the critical talk with your kids about the dangers of impaired driving?

Car crashes are the number one reason young drivers in BC end up in the hospital or dead — and alcohol is often involved.

A new report in the BC Medical Journal reveals a lot of teenagers are still dying on our roads.

Ninety-eight teens died behind the wheel or on a motorcycle between 2004 and 2012 in BC — more than one-third were impaired by alcohol, according to the report, which was put together using data from the Coroners Service.

“Those numbers are not any different than they are across Canada. The teenagers or young people are highly over-represented in impaired driving crashes in general, across Canada. Teenagers and young people are risk takers, they’re willing to have alcohol and drive and/or drugs, and the other thing about young people and driving is they’re not that experienced as drivers, so they will ultimately, if they’re impaired even to a small degree, they will ultimately get in a car crash, which is unfortunate. So here we have an inexperienced driver and we have some sort of impairment and the likelihood of getting in a crash is very high. And then of course you have the risk takers — the partiers, they’re having fun, and they’re so willing to show off and they’ve got their freedom now and next thing you know, they’re dead, which is tragic when families lose these beautiful young people because of impairment, it’s just tragic,” says Bob Rorison with Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

He adds parents need to recognize they are the ones setting an example for their kids.

“So if the parents drive impaired or even slightly impaired or make a joke about it, then their children, the new drivers, are the ones that may take a chance, may take a risk because if their parents think it’s funny then the young people think that they can get away with it also. So the parents are the ones who set the example. But the teens too, we need leaders in the teen groups. We have a youth group in MADD Canada and the teenagers need to spread the word amongst themselves cause as you know, teenagers won’t listen to older, mature people, they’ll do what they want. But if you have leaders in the teen group that are spreading the message so to speak about impaired driving that you will die and you will be seriously injured if you drive impaired, then hopefully less teenagers will take the risk and drive impaired.”

The study found 86 per cent of the teens who were impaired had a blood alcohol level beyond 0.08 per cent.

It notes a 2012 evaluation of the Immediate Roadside Prohibition program, which was brought in two years earlier, showed the number of impaired drivers on the road was down significantly, particularly late at night.