The Report Impaired Driving in Canada 2015, which was released not long ago by Statistics Canada, offers a lot of insights into the behaviour of Canadians on the road. We’ve already examined who has been drinking and driving. It’s also noteworthy to check where the drinking and driving has been going on – or where it has not been going on.
In a tally of census metropolitan areas, Statistics Canada found that the five cities with the lowest number of impaired driving incidents in proportion to population were all in Ontario: London, Toronto, Windsor, Ottawa, and Kingston.
What does one make of this? Has Ontario been clued in to methods of avoiding impaired driving?
Perhaps the clues are demographic. Dense metropolitan areas tend to have better public transportation, so fewer people need to drive. Moreover, fewer households have vehicles in such areas, and households with vehicles will have a lower number of them.
But that would apply to all metropolitan areas, not just those in Ontario. And CMAs in Ontario occupy most of the top spots on the chart.
Other factors could include the type of DUI policing the respective provinces do. In addition, not every province might report traffic violations in the same manner. So it might be that other provinces are arresting more impaired drivers, or reporting more of them.
The report does point out that impaired driving has been on the downturn in Ontario CMAs over the past decade. This change is due in part to Ontario’s well-administered ignition interlock program and also the provincial administrative penalties it imposes for offenders who drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .05 or above (the warn range).
Metropolitan areas also offer more deterrence. Rural areas are notorious for long stretches of unpoliced roads with many miles between tavern and home, leading drivers to believe they can get away with drinking and driving.
Perhaps later on we’ll understand these statistics better. But we’re grateful to Statistics Canada for gathering this immense body of data which will gradually help us pass better laws and build better safety programs to save lives on the nation’s roads.