OTTAWA, December 18th, 2014 /CNW/ – A new Road Safety Monitor (RSM) poll conducted by the Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF) and sponsored by Beer Canada and the Toyota Canada Foundation reveals that the percentage of respondents who regard drinking and driving as a major road safety concern has consistently decreased from a high of 88.0% in 2006 to 73.1% in 2014.The public opinion poll conducted in October and November 2014 investigated the attitudes, behaviours and actions of Canadians in relation to drinking and driving as well as trends.
“One theory for this decline is the increase in competing priorities during the past few years around other high profile road safety issues such as distracted driving, drugged driving, and young drivers," explains Dr. Ward Vanlaar, TIRF Vice President Research. “While other road safety messages are typically promoted year-round, Canadians may perceive drinking and driving as an issue that more often occurs around the holiday season.”
Of additional concern is the percentage of self-reported drinking drivers (6.6%) who admitted to driving when they thought they were over the legal limit, which has nearly doubled since reaching a record low of 3.6% in 2012.According to researchers, given the relationship between levels of concern among the public and their behaviour, it is perhaps not surprising to see the increase in self-reported drinking and driving over the legal limit.
"While an increase from 3.6% to 6.6% of those who reported driving when they thought they were over the legal limit would seem small, this would equate to an estimated 1.6 million Canadians driving on our roads and putting themselves, their passengers and other road users at risk,” notes Dr. Ward Vanlaar. “Once more recent fatality data become available for analysis, we will be able see if this change in trends has affected fatality and injury rates. Nonetheless, these changes are worrisome considering the gains we’ve made in Canada over the past twenty-five years.”
The declines in the number of alcohol-related deaths (744 in 2010) and the number of drivers who drive after drinking (17.4% in 2014) are largely due to a combination of changes, including stronger legislation, enforcement efforts, and education and awareness programs. However, researchers want to remind Canadians that drivers must never become complacent and that responsible driving is a year-round obligation.
“Regardless of the road safety issue, a comprehensive approach is needed to make progress," explains Steve Brown, TIRF Research Associate. "Year-round messaging, knowledgeable and socially-engaged road users, and consistent levels of enforcement as well as continuous monitoring of drinking and driving trends will help insure the gains made since the 1980s are not eroded."