Éduc’alcool sets the record straight: Nine out of ten Quebecers never drive while impaired.

Montreal, March 7, 2011 – Contrary to the alarming and hard-to-believe results of a study released last December stating that 37% of Quebecers had admitted to driving while impaired, a recent CROP poll conducted for Éduc’alcool is crystal clear: in the past year, nine out of ten Quebecers have never driven while impaired.

The poll asked 1,000 Quebecers the following question: Over the past twelve months, how many times have you driven while having a blood alcohol level over the legal limit?

This question is clear and straightforward, compared to the one asked in the other survey, which was made public in December 2010.

As a result of that survey, it was concluded that nearly four in ten Quebecers “drove while impaired” based on the fact that 37% of respondents had answered Yes to the following questions: In the past year, how many times have you driven after drinking alcohol? And Over the past 12 months, how often have you driven when you thought your blood alcohol level was near or even over the legal limit?

Questioning the rigor of the survey and how the data had been interpreted, Éduc’alcool decided to inquire further, particularly given that people who had “drunk alcohol” were implausibly being considered on a par with those who were “near or even over the legal limit,” as though everyone who had had one drink (37%) was, by definition, at the limit.

The social norm: an important standard

As an organization dedicated to education and prevention, Éduc’alcool could not let such a statistic go unexamined. The issue is extremely important: if nearly one in four drivers is driving while impaired, that would mean the behaviour is the social norm – common, acceptable and widespread – with all the attendant consequences.

Delinquent behaviour is the norm? Really? Such a statement, if circulated widely, would encourage people who drive while impaired, or are tempted to do so, to continue that behaviour. But what if the statement were false?

In fact, driving while impaired is very, very far from being the norm in Quebec. On that subject, the statistics are unequivocal.

Let’s compare the results of the CROP-Éduc’alcool poll with the other survey:

Frequency CROP-Éduc’alcool Other survey
Never 89 % 63 %
Once or twice 6 % 10 et 14 %
3 to 5 times 3 % 8 et 18 %
6 times or more 2 % 9 et 4 %

Of course, the fact that one in ten Quebecers admits to driving while impaired is neither insignificant nor acceptable, and we must absolutely continue our efforts to improve awareness about the issue, just as we must seriously increase the perception that if you drive while impaired, you’re going to get arrested. But disseminating far-fetched and socially irresponsible statistics is not the way to improve road safety.