Alcohol or drug use affects ability to drive: IBC
Poll shows not all Canadians consider driving high the same as driving while drunk
Over the weekend, the Holyrood RCMP charged two people with impaired driving — one allegedly impaired by alcohol, the other allegedly impaired by being under the influence of cannabis.
Both were released from custody to appear in provincial court at a later date.
Leading up to and since the legalization of cannabis in Canada last month, there have been increased public awareness donot-drive-high campaigns, and information campaigns aimed to explain how being under the influence of cannabis can affect a person’s ability to drive.
It’s similar to campaigns aimed at curbing driving while under in the influence of alcohol.
Both crimes deal out the same stiff penalties if there’s a conviction. According to the federal Department of Justice, impaired driving is the leading criminal cause of death and injury in Canada. In 2016, there were more than 70,000 impaired driving incidents reported by the police, including almost 3,000 drug-impaired driving incidents.
A recent poll conducted by Leger on behalf of the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) found that 84 per cent of Canadians believe that driving while high poses a real risk to road safety. And 70 per cent of Canadians believe that driving while high is as dangerous as driving while impaired by alcohol.
Amanda Dean, IBC vice-president Atlantic, said there’s work to be done across the country to get those percentages higher.
“The key message out there is that impaired, is impaired, is impaired,” Dean said. “Even if you have a medical marijuana licence, that does not mean you can drive while impaired. Not all medication is created equal, but there is an impairment component to it.
“We are concerned about road safety clearly … and looking to support other campaigns out there, get the messaging out there in terms of how do we all make sure our roads are safe.
“There is a law enforcement component, but they can’t do it alone. So we need to hold people to account, and not get into cars with folks who have consumed cannabis, for our own personal protection, but also just to reiterate to those individuals that, ‘Hey, this is not the thing to do.’”
A part of this province’s Public Utilities Board review into automobile insurance was to report on measures to improve highway safety and automotive accident prevention in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Some of the presentations made during public hearings earlier this year discussed how impaired driving — by alcohol or drug — was among the four biggest killers on the highways. The other three were non-compliance with seat belts, speeding or aggressive driving, and distracted driving.
The PUB’s report is expected to be presented to the provincial government sometime this fall.
The first arrest over the weekend by the Holyrood RCMP came on Friday night when officers pulled over an 18-year-old male driver in Harbour Main for speeding, and subsequently suspected him of being under the influence of cannabis. He was charged with impaired operation of a motor vehicle while impaired by drug.
The second arrest came on Saturday evening when police officers responded to a report of a vehicle driving erratically on the Trans-Canada Highway near Butter Pot Park. The vehicle was then reported to have gone off the road and was in the median.
The driver, a 26-year-old man, was charged with operation of a vehicle while being impaired by alcohol.