Oakville, ON (MADD Canada) MADD Canada appears before the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs today to urge Senators to pass the most consequential piece of impaired driving legislation the country has seen in many years.
Bill C-46 proposes the introduction of driving limits for cannabis and other drugs, new roadside testing devices to detect drugged drivers, and mandatory alcohol screening for drivers. The Bill has been passed in the House of Commons and is currently being debated by the Senate Committee.
“Hundreds of Canadians are killed and tens of thousands are injured every year in alcohol and drug-related crashes which are entirely preventable,” said MADD Canada Chief Executive Officer Andrew Murie. “Canada needs to do more to stop these tragedies on our roads. Bill C-46 proposes effective measures that will do just that.”
The proposed mandatory screening measures, for example, would reduce impairment-related crash deaths and injuries by 20%, MADD Canada estimates. That is approximately 200 lives saved and more than 12,000 injuries prevented each year.
Much of the public and political debate around the impaired driving Bill has focused on the legalization of marijuana, which is proposed in separate legislation, Bill C-45. MADD Canada urges Senators to review the impaired driving legislation independent of the legalization Bill.
“There seems to be some question about whether the measures contained in Bill C-46 will be needed if the bill to legalize marijuana is delayed or never becomes law,” said Mr. Murie. “The answer is yes. Canada has a drugged driving problem right now that needs to be addressed, regardless of what happens with legalization.”
Drugs are present in fatal crashes nearly twice as often as alcohol. In 2013, 1,451 people died in crashes that involved drivers with some alcohol and/or drug presence. Of those, 28.1% involved a positive drug reading, compared to 15.2% with a positive alcohol reading. The remaining 16.4% tested positive for both alcohol and drug presence. Despite that growing prevalence of drugs among drivers, Canada’s existing system does a very poor job of detecting drivers under the influence of drugs. Just 3.91% of all impaired driving charges in 2016 were drug-related. That’s just 1,917 charges out of 48,966.
Bill C-46 represents a powerful step forward in the fight to stop impaired driving. It will have a tremendous impact on the reduction of alcohol and drug-impaired driving, and will make Canadian roads safer.
“Canada needs effective measures to detect and deter those who drive while under the influence of drugs and alcohol,” Mr. Murie said. “We hope the Standing Committee will recognize the crucial safety benefits of Bill C-46 and pass the legislation without undue delay.”
About MADD Canada
MADD Canada (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) is a national, charitable organization that is committed to stopping impaired driving and supporting the victims of this violent crime. With volunteer-driven groups in more than 100 communities across Canada, MADD Canada aims to offer support services to victims, heighten awareness of the dangers of impaired driving and save lives and prevent injuries on our roads. For more information, visit www.madd.ca.