The number of deaths related to impaired driving collisions in British Columbia has decreased over the past two years, following the introduction of tougher legislation, the provincial government announced this week.
Since the September 2010 launch of the immediate roadside prohibition (IRP) program, the number of alcohol-related motor vehicle deaths has decreased to an average of 62 a year, a decrease of 46% from the average of 114 over the previous five years, according to the province.
The numbers are based on preliminary road crash fatality data for the two years ending Sept. 30, 2012. The government made its announcement Wednesday, which marked the National Day of Remembrance for Road Crash Victims and Mothers Against Drunk Driving's 25th annual Project Red Ribbon.
The government’s goal upon creating the new law, which falls under the Motor Vehicle Act, was to reduce alcohol-impaired driving fatalities by 35 per cent by the end of 2013.
In the province, drivers impaired by alcohol face immediate penalties that may take away their vehicle, their licence, and cost them anywhere from $600 to more than $4,000 in administrative penalties and remedial program costs, according to the government.
The province has also had fewer impaired drivers on the road, according to a government-sponsored survey of drivers in Abbotsford, Kelowna, Prince George, Saanich and Vancouver.
The 2012 Roadside Alcohol and Drug Survey suggests that 44% fewer drivers had a blood-alcohol content (BAC) 0.05% and over. Nearly 60% fewer drivers were at or over the Criminal Code threshold of 0.08%, the survey suggests.
The results also suggest that levels of drinking and driving were the lowest recorded in the history of seven similar surveys conducted in Vancouver and Saanich, since 1995, the province noted.
More than 82% of drivers said they were aware of the sanctions, according to the survey, and 30% said the new law prompted a change in their behaviour.
Drivers aged 25 to 54 were most likely to have changed their behaviour as a result of the legislation, while those under 25 were most likely to say they never drink and drive, according to the study.
The survey was independently conducted in June 2010 and June 2012 as part of an evaluation of the IRP legislation. It involved about 2,500 vehicles throughout the five communities, and involved collecting voluntary breath and mouth-fluid samples, and questioning participants about their awareness of and perspectives on B.C.'s approach to impaired driving.
Photos: Justice Minister and Attorney General Shirley Bond announced preliminary road-crash fatality data Wednesday. (Credit: Government of British Columbia)