Impaired Driving Awareness Month kicks off with province-wide check stop blitz

Above: Tim Phillips of MADD hands Lori McLaughlin the RCMP’s box of MADD ribbons Thursday afternoon. Ribbons can be purchased by donation at the Morinville RCMP Detachment.

– Stephen Dafoe Photo

by Morinville News Staff

Local RCMP, Peace Officers, and the province are reminding motorists that December is Impaired Driving Awareness Month. The province’s RCMP Detachments kicked off Impaired Driving Enforcement Month Dec. 1 by announcing plans for a CheckStop blitz on Saturday, December 3rd in local detachment areas and on major roadways across Alberta.

The province-wide operation will involve hundreds of “K” Division officers and Alberta Sheriff personnel working together as part of a Canada-wide RCMP National Day of Enforcement campaign aimed at taking impaired drivers off the road.

“Having a CheckStop blitz in early December provides a very visible reminder that the RCMP, with the help of the Alberta Sheriffs, will be out on the roads throughout the holiday season on the lookout for impaired drivers,” said Inspector Steve Daley, Acting Officer-in-Charge of Alberta RCMP Traffic Services, in a release Thursday.

Alberta RCMP and Alberta Sheriff personnel have issued more than 1,600 roadside licence suspensions for impaired driving so far in 2016.

From January 1 through October 31st of this year, the Alberta RCMP have charged 3,836 adults and 44 young persons with impaired driving.

Get Friends Home Safely

With friends and family travelling to social events and gatherings, many involving alcohol, police are encouraging the community to stand up and speak out against impaired driving before it happens.

They ask that anyone hosting a party during the holiday season to plan to help guests get home safely, having non-alcoholic beverages available for designated drivers, and encouraging people to take a taxi home or stay the night if they have been drinking.

Travellers are asked to call the police to report anyone suspected of impaired driving, provide as much information as possible about the driver and vehicle. Make, model, colour, the direction of travel, licence plate, as well as the location of the incident are all important information for police.

Drugs Also A Problem For Impaired Driving

The Government of Alberta is also joining the fight against alcohol and drug-impaired driving with their Spot the Difference campaign.

The province says it’s time to debunk the myth that driving after using marijuana is safer than driving after consuming alcohol. They are also looking to clear misconceptions about the police’s ability to detect impairment caused by drug use.

“While society has made significant inroads against impaired driving, drugged driving is on the rise and Albertans need to be aware that, in the eyes of the law, there is no difference between drunk driving and drugged driving,” said Brian Mason, Minister of Transportation, in a release Thursday. “That is because alcohol and drugs impair a driver’s ability and increase the risk of an otherwise fully preventable crash.”

Arthur Lee, Provincial Community Liaison with SADD Alberta said his organization continues to raise awareness about the dangers of drinking and driving among Alberta’s youth.

[We] have received alarming feedback about the increase of drug-impaired driving and the casual attitude many young people take toward the risks associated with it,” Lee said. “Drug-impaired driving will likely surpass alcohol-impaired driving soon, and it’s a topic we’re going to address with our Alberta schools going forward.”

According to stats from The Traffic Injury Research Foundation, drugs were detected in 40 per cent of fatally injured drivers in 2012. In that year, 82 Alberta drivers killed in collisions tested positive for drugs.

By comparison, 71 fatally injured drivers tested positive for alcohol in 2012. Of those, 34 had both alcohol and drugs in their system.

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