Calgary may be on the map for being one of the largest cities in Alberta, but it’s also well known as a city with a serious drinking and driving issue. After years of roads clogged with impaired drivers, Calgary police are starting to see a decline.
Any decline would be a good thing for the Alberta city, but Calgary has seen a steady drop in drinking and driving charges that could be a sign that their impaired driving measures are working. There was a 17% drop in arrests from 2015 to 2016 and an 18% drop from 2014 to 2015. The city has also seen a drop in alcohol-related fatal crashes, with a decline of two crashes over the same time last year, and another decline in drunk driving offenses over the May long weekend, with nineteen people charged with drinking and driving in May 2015 but only eight charged in 2016.
It’s encouraging news for the city, especially with the Calgary stampede happening every year in July. Historically it’s been seen as a time of increased drinking and increased drinking and driving, and organizations like Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) were even more concerned this year because the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission changed the rules of happy hours during the stampede too. The 8 pm limit for cheap drinks during happy hour was been removed and bars and nightclubs were able to offer drink specials from the time they opened until closed. MADD felt cheaper drinks and extended happy hour would make people drink even more, and if they drink more, they could drink and drive.
Although the stampede data on impaired drivers isn’t in yet, hopefully that ten-day period didn’t put an end to Calgary’s steady decline in drinking and driving incidents. It’s difficult to make any headway at all in the fight against drunk driving, and for Calgary to see such a significant decrease is good news if they can keep it up.