OAKVILLE, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - March 2, 2012) - A coaster campaign against Alberta's new impaired driving sanctions is heavy on sensationalism and light on the facts, says MADD Canada.
Coasters being distributed by the Wildrose Alliance Party and comments made by members inaccurately suggest the sanctions target social drinkers, that only drivers well over the legal limit pose a danger on the roads and that warn range sanctions will have no impact on those drivers with excessively high BACs.
"This isn't about politics, it's about the safety of the public. The Wildrose Party says they are trying to raise awareness of what's going on, but they completely disregard the benefits these sanctions will have in reducing alcohol-related crashes," said MADD Canada's National President Denise Dubyk. "The Wildrose Party needs to cease the fear-mongering tactics and consider the impact these laws will have in terms of saving lives."
The campaign suggests that drivers under .08% are not a risk on the roads. Yet, research has consistently shown that key driving related skills are impaired at .05% and the relative risk of a crash rises at that level. The BAC levels among impaired drivers involved in crashes breaks downs as follows: 60% are double or more the legal limit; 20% are between .08% and .16%; and 20% are under .08%.
"Do drivers over the legal limit cause more crashes? Yes. But drivers under .08% also cause crashes. Is it safe to drive if your BAC is .05% or .07%? Absolutely not," Ms. Dubyk said. "To suggest driving ability is not affected at those levels is incorrect and irresponsible."
Furthermore, the campaign ignores the fact that strong warn range sanctions have positive effects on drivers in all BAC categories, from those in the warn range to those at the highest BAC levels. In fact, research has shown that low BAC limits actually have the most significant impact on those drivers at the higher BAC levels.
Alberta's .05% BAC sanctions are not new. They have been in place for many years. What is changing now is the duration of the suspension, rising from 24 hours to 3 days. The increased duration recognizes the fact that the 24 hour suspension provided little incentive for risky drivers to change their behaviour.
While critics portray these sanctions as an attack on social drinkers, BAC estimates clearly show these laws do not affect what most people would consider to be reasonable social drinking. Based on BAC estimates, a 185 lb. man can have three standard drinks over a two-hour period and not go over the .05% BAC limit. Similarly, a 130 lb. woman can have two standard drinks over a two-hour period and not go over that limit.
"MADD Canada encourages people to separate their drinking from driving entirely," Ms. Dubyk said. "But it's important for everyone to understand that these sanctions do not infringe on someone's ability to have a glass of wine with dinner, or join friends for a beer after work.
"The most important piece of information missing from this coaster campaign is the fact that strong sanctions at the .05% level work," Ms. Dubyk said. "Low BAC countermeasures have been proven to reduce alcohol-related crashes, deaths and injuries."
In British Columbia, alcohol-related crash deaths dropped by 40% in the year after that province introduced similar changes to its warn range sanctions.
"We support these laws and we ask everyone to consider the positive impact they will have on reducing impaired driving crashes," Ms. Dubyk said. "We have a high rate of impaired driving crashes in this province. These warn range sanctions will help reduce that rate and, in doing so, will save lives and prevent injuries."