KEEP STREETS — AND YOUR­SELF — SAFE THIS HOL­I­DAY SEA­SON

Drink­ing and driv­ing is al­ways a con­cern at hol­i­day time, but cannabis use should also be re­garded as a se­ri­ous is­sue

The Province - - DRIVING - BLAIR QUALEY Blair Qualey is Pres­i­dent and CEO of the New Car Deal­ers As­so­ci­a­tion of BC. You can email him at bqua­[email protected]­cardeal­ers.ca.

This is a spe­cial time of year for many peo­ple, as hol­i­day fes­tiv­i­ties oc­cur in­volv­ing fam­ily, friends and co-work­ers — and many of us will be en­joy­ing the spirit of the sea­son.

How­ever, if your ac­tiv­i­ties may in­volve drink­ing or con­sum­ing cannabis, plan ahead for a safe ride home. Ar­range a des­ig­nated driver, call a taxi or friend, or take tran­sit — but do not get be­hind the wheel.

Sadly, each year in Bri­tish Columbia, 65 peo­ple die in crashes in­volv­ing im­paired driv­ing. Al­most half of those deaths hap­pen dur­ing the sum­mer.

How­ever, other deaths hap­pen dur­ing what should be joy­ous cel­e­bra­tions dur­ing the win­ter hol­i­days.

Ac­cord­ing to ICBC, an av­er­age of 340 peo­ple are in­jured in 1,200 crashes in B.C. each year be­tween Dec. 24-26 alone.

For those who may be­lieve this cau­tion­ary mes­sage only ap­plies to those in­dulging in al­co­hol, think twice.

Trans­port Canada re­ports the per­cent­age of Cana­dian driv­ers killed in ve­hi­cle crashes who tested pos­i­tive for drugs (40 per cent) now ac­tu­ally ex­ceeds the num­bers who test pos­i­tive for al­co­hol (33 per cent) — and im­paired driv­ing is the lead­ing crim­i­nal cause of death and in­jury in Canada.

If you crash while driv­ing im­paired, you’re likely in breach of your in­sur­ance pol­icy. That means you could be per­son­ally re­spon­si­ble for 100 per cent of the costs if you dam­age some­one else’s prop­erty or in­jure them.

When you drink or con­sume cannabis and then choose to get be­hind the wheel you risk not only your own life but those of oth­ers on the road. With so many op­tions to get home safely, there is no ex­cuse to drive while im­paired.

And a fi­nal cau­tion to all driv­ers: Don’t al­low your­self to be dis­tracted. Put down your cell­phone or any other de­vice that may take your at­ten­tion away from the road. When you are be­hind the wheel, fo­cus on the road.

Al­low ev­ery­one to en­joy the hol­i­day sea­son — be­cause the al­ter­na­tive is sim­ply not worth it.

ICBC FILES

Po­lice of­fi­cers will check driv­ers on B.C.’s roads dur­ing the hol­i­day sea­son.

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