Each year during the months of November and December law enforcement agencies step up their enforcement against drinking and driving. Despite this, there are still too many motorists who don’t get the message and continue to get behind the wheel after having a bit too much to drink.
On Friday, police joined with Mothers Against Drunk Driving to launch another Operation Christmas with a checkpoint in New Glasgow. Similar checkpoints will be a familiar sight across northern Nova Scotia over the next month as officers increase their vigilance at a time of year when more people are travelling to and from Christmas parties.
Police have adopted a zero tolerance policy toward drinking and driving and it has resulted in safer highways. Still, as indicated in the provincial court system, there are still people making bad decisions when it comes to getting behind the wheel after a few drinks, or getting into a vehicle in which the driver has been drinking.
As a society we expect police to crackdown on impaired drivers during the Christmas season as they should the rest of the year. However, you can’t blame police and government for holding events such as Friday’s to get the message out once again.
Despite all that’s been done in this province to change attitudes, impaired driving remains the leading cause of death and serious injuries on Nova Scotia’s highways. In 2011, 19 Nova Scotians died in alcohol-related automobile collisions.
Government has taken a proactive role in passing legislation that makes it tougher on those drivers who have been convicted of drinking and driving. Several years ago, police were given the ability to immediately suspend the licence of a driver with a blood-alcohol content of between .05 and .08.
However, as much as it has taken action to punish impaired drivers there is probably more than can be done to remove them from the road for a longer period or ensure that when they return they are sober when they get behind the wheel.
Last week, Prince Edward Island introduced legislation that will make it mandatory for all first-time offenders to use the ignition interlock device, while those caught impaired with children under age 16 in the vehicle will have to use the device for two years. That province also expects to enact tougher rules regarding the impounding of vehicles.
While there will be some who claim new rules will do nothing to curb statistics, removing even one more drunk driver from the road will result in fewer deaths and injuries on our region’s highways.