Driving under the influence of alcohol is bad enough at a normal highway pace. Speeding while impaired – extreme speeding – is a very deadly criminal act.
Last Saturday the RCMP radar picked up a man rocketing at 187 km/h on the Trans-Canada highway. “Shocking” was the word used by an RCMP spokesperson. Most of the Trans-Canada highway caps speeds at 110 km/h, placing the offender a full 77 km/h over the limit.
The man will not just face traffic charges. Impaired driving (over .08 BAC) is an offence against the Criminal Code of Canada. Speeding is not per se a criminal act, but dangerous driving is, as is fleeing police.
It goes without saying that speeding is dangerous, but it’s worth reviewing the reasons why speeding is the second most common cause of road death, after distracted driving. Impaired driving and failure to buckle seat belts are causes three and four.
- Speeding decreases a driver’s ability to react to curves or obstacles in the road
- It increases the distance needed to stop a vehicle or change heading
- It decreases the time and distance another driver has to react to the speeder’s vehicle
Let’s take a look at that stopping distance. Using this excellent calculator, we find that at the 110 km/h speed limit, it takes about 92 meters to come to a stop from the moment you see a hazard and need to brake. If you’re going just 20 km/h over the speed limit, it takes 124 meters – more than 30 meters more. A lot of misery can be contained in those 30 meters.
At the speed the offender was going, 187 km/h, it would have taken 240 meters to come to a stop – more than two and a half times more. And that does not count the impairment, which slows reaction time more. Statistics show that an .08 BAC impairment increases the risk of crash between 500 and 950 percent. Add the phenomenal speed and the impairment, and you have a road disaster of terrific proportions waiting to happen.
It didn’t happen this time – the police were able to prevent it. But Manitoba does not have enough tools available to prevent repeat impaired driving.
According to MADD Canada’s latest Provincial Impaired Driving Report, Manitoba is behind the curve on impaired driving laws. Offenders are not required to successfully complete an ignition interlock program before relicensing, and there is no vehicle impoundment or mandatory administrative licence suspension (ALS) for a first DUI. This incident was a stirring reminder of how lethal impaired driving can be, and Manitoba deserves an ignition interlock law that will protect its citizens from drivers like this.