There’s something big going on in Dryden, Ontario, and it involves teen drunk drivers.
After doing a little number crunching a local police officer discovered a disturbing trend in northern Ontario drunk driving. She discovered that over a three-year period there were an increasing number of drunk driving arrests and the majority of those drivers were much younger than anyone wanted to believe.
After a little probing the coroner found that a third of the young people who die in Northern Ontario die due to drunk driving. Not only does that mean there are a significant amount of teen drunk drivers on the roads at any given time, it also means that there are teens dying and families losing their children when drunk driving is 100% preventable.
To fight back against teen drunk drivers and impaired driving in Northern Ontario, the Dryden and Ignace Area Impaired Reduction Strategy (DAIRS) has received a $90,000 grant to launch a program designed to bring awareness to how deadly teen drunk driving has become.
It’s a lot of money, but it’s going to be money well spent. First DAIRS and the Northwestern Health Unit are going to put a temporary coordinator into place who will deliver a program called Prevent Alcohol Related Trauma in Youth (P.A.R.T.Y ) to high schools in Northern Ontario. That person will impart the message that impaired driving is a community wide issue, and you can’t just look to the police to solve it when changing attitudes toward drunk driving should be number one.
DAIRS is also going to use the money to buy a Simulated Impaired Driving Experience (SIDNE) unit and a Driver Interactive Machine. These devices are widely used to show both teens and their parents how it feels to drive drunk and the penalties that will come if you do. Take the penalty of ignition interlocks for example: teens on the graduated licensing program will lose their license if they are caught driving drunk, but there is always the possibility they could end up driving with an ignition interlock as requested by a judge or a parent.
It’s not just Northern Ontario that’s having a problem with drunk driving. The entire province of Ontario has seen an increase over the past year, and although there have been high profile crashes and high profile consequences for the drunk driver, it’s done nothing to deter people from getting behind the wheel while drunk.
To force change everyone has to start somewhere, and with this grant DAIRS is going to make a huge leap forward in decreasing teen drunk driver and impaired driving in Northern Ontario.