It’s been touted with saving lives.
But is there proof BC’s tough drinking driving laws have reduced crashes?
A draft ICBC report suggests there just isn’t enough data to make that claim.
The draft report on BC’s Impaired Driving Initiative was prepared last January by a consultant tasked with figuring out whether the impact of the changes could be estimated.
To do that in a scientific way, you need data. But in B.C.’s case, apparently it’s data that doesn’t exist.
Not enough data
The analysis notes a lack of control data and collision data.
To make matters worse, information on police enforcement is not consistently available across B.C. As a result, the draft report says “an overall evaluation of the impact” of changes to tackle impaired driving is “not feasible.”
The draft report was requested by Victoria law firm Mulligan Tam Pearson in February of 2015, but was only received this month.
Report drafted a year ago
A Vancouver lawyer who has long criticized the province’s claims about its drunk driving laws says the report backs up what he has claimed.
Paul Doroshenko says the only thing that’s certain about the changes brought in by the BC government is that it takes away peoples’ rights.
“If you were driving down the road and you blew a fail into a roadside breath tester, you were pulled off the road, either before this law came into effect or after this law came into effect. So the tool to remove drivers from the road is identical. Which is why there is no way you can come to the conclusion that this is what’s going to save people.”
Doroshenko adds it is outrageous it took ICBC almost a year to respond to an FOI request.
He suggests the province didn’t want the report to come out.
Suzanne Anton says B.C. deterrents are working
The Justice Minister and B.C. Attorney General says the current deterrents are working.
“I don’t have the numbers right in front of me but what I can say is that we do know the number of deaths on B.C. roads from drinking and driving has declined and it has declined since we put in the immediate roadside prohibitions.”
“We have an innovative approach to drinking and driving in B.C. which is the immediate roadside prohibition and it is a very good deterrent against drinking and driving and it is saving lives in B.C.”
Anton says the number of deaths on B.C. roads from drinking and driving has dropped since the immediate road side prohibitions were brought in.
RoadSafetyBC’s response to the draft report
RoadSafetyBC thoroughly reviews all relevant reports.
While calculated differently – the ICBC report tracked the number of fatal collisions while RoadSafetyBC tracks total fatalities (persons) – both numbers are correct and show the significant difference our tough drinking and driving laws have made.
In each of the 5 years leading up to the implementation of the IRP program, an average of 113 people died from alcohol related driving activities on BC roads.
Between October 2010 and March 2015, we saw an annualized reduction of 52% – from 113 to 54 – representing an estimated 260 lives saved, compared to the pre-IRP annual average.
By adding together the lives saved each year, we know that our program has helped 260 people return home alive who otherwise may not have.
All of this information has been publicly available on RoadSafetyBC’s website, and there is no FOI request required to obtain this information.
We are confident that combined with stringent law enforcement and education and awareness, our drinking and driving penalties – the toughest in the country when they were introduced – have made a big difference in saving lives and helping British Columbians get home safe.
Additionally, a 2014 study led by the University of Victoria concluded that the IRP program is a significant contributor to the lower rates of drinking and driving fatalities.
RoadSafetyBC closely monitors fatality and injury data and roadside studies.