It's the holiday season. There are celebrations and gatherings, champagne and cocktails. Unfortunately, and despite increasing social pressure, many people will still get behind the wheel after consuming alcohol. Impaired driving continues to be a growing problem on Canada's roads. Statistics Canada reported that in 2011, the last year for which data is available, there were more than 90,000 impaired driving incidents, up 3,000 from the year before. As a nation, something isn't getting across that driving while impaired is dangerous.
When you combine this with distracted driving—which ranges from using a mobile device while driving to eating behind the wheel to thinking about anything other than what's in front of you—worsened weather conditions, and the increased number of vehicles on the road, the holidays have the power to turn roadways into death traps. But they don't have to.
You have options. By taking a few precautions and making arrangements for alternative modes of transportation we can all help make the roads a little safer.
Penalties for Impaired Driving
Driving while impaired endangers not only yourself, but also the lives of your passengers and others on the road. If you're found guilty of driving under the influence, you face fines, licence suspensions or licence loss, significant increases to your auto insurance premiums, and jail time.
Ride Checks, a program that supports the GTA's R.I.D.E program by Police Services, estimates that the average minimum cost of a first time drunk driving offense is more than $18,500—including $13,500 in auto insurance premiums over three years.
Avoid risking lives and your bank account by utilizing one of the following services.
Get Home Safe
Designated Drivers – Identifying someone as a designated driver helps ensure everyone gets home safe. Take turns so that the same person isn’t always the DD; there will be many festivities leading up to holidays and it’s only fair to share the responsibility.
Taxis – Calling a cab allows everyone to have a glass of champagne or two. If you're hosting a party, make sure your guests arrive home safe by calling taxis on their behalf or arranging for another, safe mode of transportation.
Public Transit – Public transit is an affordable and convenient option for many. Several transit systems, such as the TTC in Toronto, offer extended and free service on New Year's. Take advantage of these offers.
Arrange for a ride – Call on a friend or family member to drive you to and/or pick you up from the party.
Operation Red Nose – This free designated driver service operates in multiple cities and provinces across the country. Volunteers donate their time to what they call a "confidential chauffeur service". All tips and/or donations are given to charity.
Designated Driver Services – These drink-and-dial services come in a variety of forms but usually involve sending one professional to your location to drive you and your vehicle home safely, while a second professional follows behind. These services are great for people who end up drinking when they weren't expecting to, and for hosts to offer party guests.
Police Cruiser – If you decide to drive while impaired then you might find yourself getting a different kind of ride—in the back of a police car on your way to jail. Skip the cell by opting for one of the alternative methods above. Your family, friends and insurance rates will thank you.