The availability of reasonably current data on impaired driving is crucial to identifying trends, evaluating legislative and policy measures, and developing new prevention strategies. Yet, the most recent Canadian data on impairment-related crashes, deaths and injuries is five years out-of-date.
“The most recent Canadian statistics on impairment-related crash deaths and injuries are from 2015,” said MADD Canada Chief Executive Officer Andrew Murie. “In addition to being outdated, these statistics are incomplete. They do not include: deaths and injuries in British Columbia; off-road crashes or crashes on non-public roads; or crashes involving only bikes, ATVs, or snowmobiles.”
Canada has implemented important and innovative legislation to prevent impaired driving over the last couple of years. However, based on the current rate of statistics compilation, the overall real-world impact of those measures will not be known for another two to three years.
“We are asked all the time about the impact of mandatory alcohol screening on impairment-related crash deaths and injuries, or about the impact of the legalization of cannabis on impaired driving rates,” Mr. Murie said. “I have to tell people that we won’t have those statistics until 2022 or 2023.”
The most comprehensive statistical report available on impaired driving in Canada, and the one MADD Canada uses as the basis for its statistics, is the Alcohol and Drug Crash Problem in Canada. The most recent report provides 2015 data.
“To improve road safety and prevent impairment-related crashes, Canada needs effective legislation and policy, strong enforcement, education of and cooperation by the public, and timely evaluation,” Mr. Murie said. “In Canada, the last part of that process – the timely evaluation – is missing.”
The timely collection and publication of impaired driving statistics is among the key policy recommendations in MADD Canada’s recently released The Top Ten Report – Federal Measures to Minimize Impaired Driving and Support Victims. In the report, MADD Canada urges the federal government to:
- Ensure the timely collection and publication of statistics on alcohol and drug-related crash deaths and injuries in Canada.
- Ensure the timely, accurate and comprehensive collection and publication of disposition data (including sentencing) in all federal alcohol and drug-related impaired driving cases.
Canadians agree on the need for up-to-date impaired driving statistics.
In a survey of 1,001 Canadians, conducted by Ipsos earlier this year, 789 (79%) said it was unacceptable that statistics on impaired driving and the number of associated injuries and deaths it causes in Canada are five years old. Further, 917 (92%) strongly or somewhat agreed that up-to-date statistics on impaired-driving related injuries and deaths are important in assisting the development of strategies to reduce impaired driving in Canada.
Following Canada Road Safety Week in May, and with the start of summer season – and increased traffic on roads and highways – coming next month, MADD Canada is highlighting the continuing problem of impaired driving, and the need for current and comprehensive statistics that will help inform policy decisions and prevention strategies.
“Other countries make impairment-related crash data publicly available within months or a year. Yet in Canada, we wait five years,” Mr. Murie said. “This lack of access to comprehensive national data on impairment-related crash deaths and injuries has been an ongoing challenge in Canada for over two decades. It’s time for the federal government to address this problem.”