Al­co­hol or drug use af­fects abil­ity to drive: IBC

Poll shows not all Cana­di­ans con­sider driv­ing high the same as driv­ing while drunk

The Aurora (Labrador City) - - Saltwire Homes - BY GLEN WHIFFEN

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.

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