Impaired driving trends in B.C.

Last updated: June 2017

Impaired driving continues to take a deadly toll on our roads.

In an average year*:

  • 66 people die in crashes involving impaired driving.
  • Impairment remains one of the top three contributing factors for fatal crashes.
  • Approximately 23 percent of fatalities are related to impaired driving.

Driving impaired includes consumption of alcohol, illicit drugs, and medicines. Keep in mind that:

  • Most impaired-related crashes (58 percent) occur on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday.
  • Almost half (40 percent) take place at night between 9 p.m. and 3 a.m.
  • 16 to 25-year-olds account for the highest number of impaired drivers in crashes (28 percent).
  • Males account for 70 percent of all impaired drivers.

Make a smart choice. If you’re going to be drinking, make sure you have a sober designated driver, money for transit or a taxi, a place to stay overnight, or a friend you can call for a ride.

*Police-reported five-year average from 2011 to 2015.

Facts about drugs and medications

Here’s why you should be extra careful if you‘re taking any medications or drugs when driving:

  • Many prescription medicines and over-the-counter drugs can leave you impaired under the Criminal Code.
  • Drugs for cold, flu, allergies and nausea can cause your attention to wander, slow your reaction time and make you drowsy.
  • When mixed with alcohol, the combination can be deadly.

There are of course some instances where you need to take prescribed medications (such as certain medical conditions like diabetes or epilepsy). Make sure you read the labels carefully and check with your doctor or pharmacist so you’re safe to drive while taking certain drugs.

CounterAttack: Working for safer roads in B.C.

In 1976 — the year before CounterAttack roadchecks started — there were more than 300 fatalities from impaired-related crashes in our province. The good news is, impaired driving fatalities are decreasing. In 2015, 69 people were killed in impaired-related crashes.

Despite the progress, these numbers are still unacceptable. So CounterAttack continues to protect people from the trauma of impaired driving. Police enforcement occurs year-round, with increased roadchecks during July and again during the December holiday season.

Make the smart choice to get home safely

  • Before you start drinking, decide how to get home safely.
  • Getting home safe is a shared responsibility; take your turn to be the designated driver.
  • Keep money aside for transit or a taxi, or call a sober friend.
  • Take a stand and don’t let people drive if they are impaired.
  • Cycling or walking home while impaired is unsafe. Impaired pedestrians and cyclists are a danger to themselves and other road users.

Alcohol affects your ability to function and drive by impacting your:

  • judgment, reaction time, coordination and visual function
  • ability to steer, track moving objects and brake appropriately
  • ability to control your speed and lane position

Impaired driving myths and facts

Driving stoned isn’t as bad as driving drunk

False. Studies show that drivers impaired by drugs can be as dangerous as drunk drivers. Depending on what you‘ve smoked, swallowed or injected, your impairment could range from slowed reflexes and flawed depth perception to hallucinations, psychosis and seizures. Police can test for drug-impairment and charge drivers who refuse to provide blood, saliva or urine samples when requested.

The penalties in B.C. are the toughest in Canada

True. B.C. has the toughest drinking and driving laws in Canada. If you drink and drive, you can count on penalties adding up between $600 and $4,060 — even if it’s the first time you’re caught — and more time off the road. For details, go to the B.C. Government website.

As long as I eat a big meal before drinking, I’ll be okay to drive.

False. It is a good idea to eat while drinking alcoholic beverages, but a full stomach won’t prevent you from being impaired. If you're planning on drinking, plan ahead for a safe ride home.

All I need is coffee, food or fresh air and I’ll be sober enough to drive home.

False. No amount of hot coffee, cold showers or fresh air will sober you up. The only cure is time.

My insurance covers me even if I drink and am responsible for a car crash.

False. If you drive while impaired, you could void your insurance and may be responsible to pay for all damages and injuries you cause to yourself and others.

Last updated: June 2017