While alcohol is still the leader in impaired driving deaths in Alberta, drugs are becoming a close second.
Minister of Transportation Brian Mason says some people aren’t aware the two substances are both treated the same. “It comes as a surprise to many people that drunk driving and drugged driving carry the same criminal charges. This is because both substances impair a driver’s ability and increase the likelihood of being involved in a collision.”
Since August and December are the months with the two highest months of impaired driving instances, Alberta Transportation Public Affairs Officer Adam Johnson believes now is the time to educate people. “We want to make sure that we raise awareness so that Albertans who may not be thinking about it realize that impaired driving doesn’t just mean drinking and driving, it also means taking drugs, legal or illegal, and driving or driving while also overly fatigued.”
Johnson says, “The officers that pull over these potential offenders are trained to do standard field sobriety testing and it’s a judgement call on their part on whether or not to enact these 24 hour suspensions. We’re seeing highers instances of drugged driving and part of this is because the officers are undergoing better training to recognize these issues.”
In 2015, drugs were detected in 41% of fatally injured drivers in Alberta compared to the national average of 40%.