Drunk Driving: When we look at each other, we console ourselves, but when we compare to others, we feel sorry for ourselves.

Every weekend brings a lot of avoidable tragedies; it is useful to take note of the progress in the field of driving while impaired, but, more importantly, what remains to be done. Indeed, if the trend continues, Quebec will have in 2011 its best year in terms of road safety. Already in 2010 marked a real breakthrough and it is likely that we will make another step forward.

That said we can always do better by simply implementing measures that have been proven decisively:

1 .- By greatly increasing the perception that people driving while impaired will be caught. This will be achieved by increasing traffic controls, especially at times and places most at risk, by publicizing it widely to the public and simplifying police procedures. Drivers, seeing regular police roadblocks, are themselves controlled and see their loved ones being controlled on a permanent basis.

2 .- By making mandatory the training for servers and bartenders in licensed establishments. This course is called Action Service and was developed by Éduc’alcool and the Institute for Tourism and Hotels in Quebec. Indeed, because a lot of impaired drivers go to bars and public establishments that serve alcohol, it must be made mandatory for servers to take a certified course to be able to inform them about their social, cultural, legal and regulatory responsibilities. In states where these courses are mandatory, there has been a substantial reduction of driving while intoxicated.

3 .- By forcing repeat offenders of drunk driving to have, for the reminder of their life, an ethyl anti-theft integrated into their vehicles. In fact, it was clear that, compared to those whose license were revoked, those who have an anti-theft display between 40 and 95% less chance of reoffending. This instrument thus effectively prevents driving while intoxicated when it is installed in the vehicle. Once the tool is removed, the drivers show recidivism rates comparable, if not higher, than those of drivers who were simply revoked the right to drive.

4 .- By legalizing the random breath testing to simplify and make more effective police control procedures. These tests, that allow the police to measure the alcohol level of all drivers, have greatly contributed to improve road safety in areas where they were located. They should be implemented in the same way they have been imposed on any traveler who wants to fly to undergo a strict safety procedures.

5 .- Finally, Quebec has to stop being so timid when it comes to road safety. Programs that are reporting drunk drivers are being set up now in English Canada, such as RID(Report Impaired Drivers), which calls on citizens to report drunk drivers to the police, do not correspond to Quebec mentality and would have no chance of success. But between the informer and the development of irresponsible and criminal behavior, there is undoubtedly a happy medium.

In contrast, it is unacceptable that we have a tolerance for these so-called good Samaritans who report on social networks the existence of police checkpoints to help drunken drivers avoid or circumvent them. It is as incomprehensible as the Quebec government would come to almost apologize for law enforcement.

Even if our country is improving constantly for its record of driving while impaired, it is still doing poorly on the world stage. It would be written “Can do better” our report card, because when we look at each other, we console ourselves, but when we compare to others, we feel sorry for ourselves.

Hubert Sacy
Éduc’alcool’s Director General