When it comes to impaired driving, it’s been a long year Canada. Despite public education from groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), despite increased impaired driving penalties and harsh laws designed to crack down on drunk drivers, and despite social media campaigns that hit people right in the smartphone, drunk driving in Canada has been on the rise.
Here are just a few things that happened in 2016 that show Canada has a lot of work to do to stop impaired driving in the new year.
Ontario’s Muzzo crash and sentencing
Although the crash happened in 2015, Marco Muzzo was sentenced in March 2016 to ten years in jail for causing the deaths of three small children and their grandfather in a drunk driving crash. That’s a stiff sentence, and you’d think people would get the hint and stop driving drunk in Ontario but that hasn’t been the case.
The York Region, where Muzzo’s crash almost wiped out an entire family, has seen an increase in impaired driving charges since that time: from 1,255 in 2015 to 1,400 at last count in November 2016.
Saskatchewan’s lax attitude to drunk driving
Saskatchewan has always been a sore spot for drunk driving in Canada. The province kicked off the year with a drunk driving crash near Saskatoon that claimed the lives of a family of four, then rolled onto crash after crash, claiming lives on what seemed like a monthly basis.
That’s why the results of a CBC poll taken in August shocked a lot of people. It turns out that Saskatchewan residents think it’s perfectly fine to drink and drive as long as they are only going short distances or they are on quiet roads.
In response to that, Saskatchewan lawmakers decided to impose even stronger ignition interlock and impaired driving laws. Beginning in 2017, the province with the worst drunk driving record could have some of the strongest drunk driving laws in the country.
Those are just two reasons from two provinces on everyone needs to work together to toughen up on drunk driving in Canada. Let’s hope 2017 is the year the entire country starts taking impaired driving seriously.