Outdated and incomplete impaired driving stats hinder legislative change

Jul 14, 2020

According to a recent opinion article published by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Canada, the outdated Canadian data on impairment-related crashes, deaths and injuries prevents proper evaluation of legislation and policies aimed to decrease deaths and injuries caused by impaired driving.

“The most recent Canadian statistics on impairment-related crash deaths and injuries are from 2015. In addition to being outdated, these statistics are incomplete.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.”

Andrew Murie, MADD Canada Chief Executive Officer

Although the government has implemented specific legislation to diminish incidence of impaired driving and related deaths over recent years, the impact of these changes will not be known for another 2-3 years, until compilation of relevant statistics and their analysis.

“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… I have to tell people that we won’t have those statistics until 2022 or 2023,” said Andrew Murie.

The most recent and accurate statistical report on impaired driving in Canada, Alcohol and Drug Crash Problem in Canada, was created by the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators using data from 2015.

“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. In Canada, the last part of that process – the timely evaluation – is missing.”

Andrew Murie, MADD Canada Chief Executive Officer

Recently, MADD released The Top Ten Report – Federal Measures to Minimize Impaired Driving and Support Victims. In this report, MADD makes several policy recommendations, including timely collection and publication of impaired driving statistics. In addition, as part of this report, MADD recommends timely collection and publication of disposition data, including sentencing for all federal alcohol and drug-related impaired driving cases.

According to the latest survey data, the majority of Canadians agree that up-to-date impaired driving statistics are crucial for implementation of effective policy. A recent survey carried out by Ipsos involving 1,001 Canadians revealed that 79% of the participants strongly agreed that it was unacceptable that statistics on impaired driving and the number of associated injuries and deaths it causes in Canada are five years old. Moreover, 92% of participants agreed that up-to-date statistics on impaired-driving related injuries and deaths are important in creation of strategies to decrease impaired driving in Canada.

“Other countries make impairment-related crash data publicly available within months or a year. Yet in Canada, we wait five years,” said Mr. Murie. “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.”