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  • Writer's pictureTroy Curtis

The choice to drive impaired is rooted in convenience and over-confidence

Yesterday, I read an article written by MADD Canada's CEO, Steve Sullivan, where he spoke about the role of sentencing with regards to impaired driving.

Steve's remarks resonated deeply with me.

When he initially shared the findings of MADD Canada's National Survey on driving under the influence of alcohol, cannabis, or illicit substances during one of our local MADD Ottawa and Area chapter meetings last year, I was both astonished and, regrettably, not entirely surprised by the listed rationales for impaired driving.

In November and December of 2022, MADD Canada surveyed 3,000 Canadians aged 18 to 70, all with valid driver's licenses, regarding their experiences of driving while they believed themselves to be impaired.

The main insight I took from the survey is the significant role played by convenience and overconfidence in the respondents' decision-making process regarding impaired driving. Remarkably, the rationales cited for driving after consuming alcohol, cannabis, or other substances mirrored those from prior surveys, as reported by MADD Canada:

- They did not feel impaired

- They did not have far to drive

- They thought they could drive carefully

As many within my circle are aware, March 15 marks the tragic and needless anniversary of the event where one of my high school friends, Emma Leckey, was struck by an impaired driver six years ago as she walked down the street. Emma passed away from her injuries later on.

Approaching the St. Patrick's Day weekend, I find myself feeling helpless urging people not to drive under the influence, fully aware that even those who should know better may still choose to take the risk, be it because of the short distance to their destination or due to ridiculouse belief in their ability to drive safely while impaired.

While I know that sentencing is a crucial aspect of addressing impaired driving, it can never fully compensate for the loss of life or offer genuine solace, comfort, or reassurance to those who have lost loved ones. The biggest struggle lies in trying to stop people from making the wrong decision in the first place.

Regardless, I’m posting this today as a reminder not to drive impaired, and to do your best to stop others from attempting it.

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