Nearly five million Canadians admitted to riding with a driver who had consumed alcohol. In a new poll by the Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF), 6.8 percent of Canadians said that in the previous month, they’d been a passenger in a vehicle driven by someone who had been drinking and another 6.7 percent said they had done so on two or more occasions within the month.
Over the course of 12 months, of the drivers who admitted to driving while they thought they were over the legal limit, 42.2 percent said they did so with a passenger in the vehicle.
“While these two measures are not directly comparable due to the different time frames, they do confirm that people willingly — albeit perhaps not knowingly — expose themselves to the risks involved with drinking and driving,” explains TIRF Research Associate Kyla Marcoux, lead author on the study. “These findings also speak to the importance of educating the public, specifically about the dangers of being a passenger in a vehicle driven by a driver who is over the legal limit.”
Earlier this year, TIRF found that 86 percent of young drivers (ages 16 to 24) “agreed or strongly agreed” to not being able to drive safely after consuming alcohol. Of drivers older than 25 years, 77 percent agreed or strongly agreed.
“This level of awareness among Canadian drivers is also in line with the decline in the number of people killed in a traffic crash involving a drinking driver,” explains Marcoux. “In 2009, the most recent year for which data are available, 714 Canadians were killed in a traffic crash involving a drinking driver. While this number is still too high, this is the lowest it has been in almost 15 years.”
The positive self-reported attitude towards not drinking and driving is also apparent in the actions of Canadian drivers as almost 80% of Canadians surveyed in the poll said that they had not driven after consuming any amount of alcohol in the last thirty days. When asked if they had driven when they thought they were over the legal limit in the last 12 months, only 5.4% of drivers admitted to this behaviour.