Tuesday December 7, 2010


BCAA Traffic Safety Fdn.

Impaired Driving: Is It Really About Limits?

"Even a simple buzz or glow is impairment"

Submitted by Lennea Durant, BCAA TSF


ith the government of British Columbia bringing in the toughest impaired driving penalties in the country, this holiday season will hopefully be a safer one.


"These sanctions are not a test to see how many drinks will put a driver over .05 or .08," stated Allan Lamb, executive director of the BCAA Traffic Safety Foundation. "They are there to remove dangerous drivers from the road before they seriously injury or kill someone." Lamb says that if a driver takes this as a challenge, then he or she is missing the point.

The point is - your driving is impaired when the ability to do so is affected by any substance or condition that changes your mood or perception of reality.

At issue for the Foundation, and those families that have suffered, is responsible behaviour. Anyone who has consumed alcohol knows that their physical and mental states change when they drink. Even a simple "buzz" or "glow" is impairment.

The Canadian Automobile Association recently surveyed drivers across the country. In B.C. 91% of British Columbians said that impaired driving was unacceptable, yet 30% admitted to driving after consuming alcohol, and 27% said that they had driven when they thought their alcohol consumption had been near or over the legal limit. This is a frightening reality.

At this time of year, a majority of impaired drivers come from private functions involving friends, family or colleagues. Lamb says that allowing someone to leave your company who may be impaired is not an option.

Hosts should be prepared for this situation with non-alcoholic drinks, designated drivers, guest accommodations, or other options to prevent impaired drivers from getting behind the wheel.

The British Columbia Automobile Association recently announced the BCAA Safe-Ride-Home program to help members who are unable to drive home safely for reasons such as medical treatment, physical injury or consumption of alcohol. The program is being introduced as a three-month pilot, and is available to members province-wide.

Programs like Safe-Ride-Home and the new sanctions are good news for the Foundation and the parents of Alexa Middelaer. "We support efforts by the police, government and businesses that are supportive, fair and equitable to remove impaired drivers from the roads of this province," says Lamb.

In memory of Alexa, the BCAA Traffic Safety Foundation has established the Alexa Middelaer Memorial Fund to further educate the public about the dangers of impaired driving; advocate for changes to policies and processes around impaired driving crimes, and to recognize those individuals who make an extra ordinary contribution to fight against impaired driving.

In 2009, 175 police officers, both RCMP and Municipal police, removed over 8,000 drinking drivers from the roads of our province. The BCAA Traffic Safety Foundation honoured these 175 officers as members of "Alexa's Team". Alexa's story has inspired police officers from all regions of B.C. to work hard to prevent more deaths of other innocent people due to impaired driving.

For tips how to have a safe holiday season or for information about how you can make a donation to the Alexa Middelaer Memorial Fund visit the BCAA Traffic Safety Foundation's website www.bcaatsf.ca

About BCAA Traffic Safety Foundation

The BCAA Traffic Safety Foundation is a non-profit registered charity working with families, communities and business partners to reduce the number and severity of traffic crashes and injuries in B.C. For more information visit www.BCAATSF.ca or call 604-298-5107.



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