EDITORIAL: Impaired drivers still the target

Shifting of funding from Christmas to summer a proper use of resources

Fewer CounterAttack roadblocks this holiday season doesn’t mean you can take the party on the road.

According to ICBC, around 30 per cent of car crash fatalities are related to impaired driving.

That’s why ICBC funds enhanced enforcement to help prevent impaired driving through CounterAttack campaigns in July and December.

This year that funding shifted, with more cash for summertime roadblocks and programs such as seatbelt campaigns.

Saanich police, for example, have three extra roadblocks this winter instead of the nine set to snare drinking drivers last December.

The shift seems inevitable when you look at Stats Canada numbers from 2011 that show a 1,355 impaired driving accidents in the nation over one July weekend, (15 to 17) plus Canada Day (1,449) and the last weekend of July (1,411). Over the Christmas weekend that year, Dec. 23 to 25, there were 792 incidents.

While the necessary funding shift from winter to summer appears to leave officers high and dry hopefully the message is getting through.

The psychological effects of generations of drivers expecting to see roadblocks has culminated in a distinct fear and expectation during the Christmas season that those familiar flashing lights could be around the next corner. Common fodder, and complaint, over pints in the pub is that B.C. has the most stringent drinking and driving laws in the country. In cash alone it can cost from $600 to more than $4,000 in fines and fees if you get caught.

That’s aside from the legal and moral implications.

As a society, we don’t think it’s okay for folks to overindulge and drive home. Police across the region routinely respond to calls from the public about possible impaired drivers. Aside from seasonal CounterAttack roadblocks, police are always looking for the telltale signs of an impaired driver. Training these days even extends beyond alcohol, so officers recognize drivers ingesting other substances before getting behind the wheel.

Greater Victoria police are adamant funding changes won’t stop them from cracking down on drinking and driving – after all, B.C. has the toughest laws in Canada.

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