As we look forward to celebrating Canada Day and the first long weekend of summer, we do so with anticipation of a good time but with concern for what we know is always a risky time for accidents, especially car accidents.
The latest report available from Statistics Canada about impaired driving in Canada cites July as “the busiest month, with an average of 305 impaired driving incidents reported per day.” It says further: “The busiest weekend was also in July, the weekend around Canada Day.”
The report shows 1,449 impaired driving incidents from July 1 to 3, 2011 (Friday through Sunday).
More recently, the British Columbia RCMP says that between Friday night and Wednesday morning surrounding Canada Day 2014, June 29 to July 2, police charged 82 impaired drivers on BC roads, more than 20 per day. There’s no mention of accidents or injuries in the report, but the BC RCMP says there were no fatalities.
In its targeted enforcement from June 27 to July 2, 2014, the RCMP charged 186 impaired drivers, the report says.
Even more recently than that, over the May long weekend in British Columbia, RCMP and Integrated Road Safety Units (IRSU) across the province issued over 3,500 tickets. The RCMP said 2,574 drivers were stopped for speeding in the span of four days. During Canada Road Safety Week, May 12-18, RCMP issued over 6,200 violations relating to speed, distracted driving, aggressive driving and lack of seatbelts. Of those, 3,581 tickets were for speeding.
For a safer Canada Day 2015, if you plan to drive, please consider these tips from previous RCMP releases:
- If you’re just out for the day, plan a safe ride home or plan to spend the night. Don’t drink and drive.
- Plan ahead for longer trips. Check with drivebc.com for road conditions or construction activity. Allow plenty of time for delays, especially over the long weekend when more vehicles will be on the road.
- Wear your seat belt. Seat belt usage is not just for passenger safety; it also helps the driver to maintain control of the vehicle.
- Slow down and keep your distance. Rear-end collisions are the most common type of car accident; don’t tailgate.
- Don’t engage in distracted driving. Don’t use cellphones or other electronic devices while behind the wheel. Driving is a skill and takes concentration and focus no matter what your age. Keep your eyes on the road and your hands upon the wheel.
- Share the road. Watch for cyclist and pedestrian traffic. Children are out of school and vacation season has started for many adults.
The RCMP also warns that all unlawfully kept liquor will be seized if found, and violators could face fines up to $230. For safety’s sake and to be within the law, transport liquor in your trunk or a space designated for storage in your vehicle.
The Consumer Protection BC blog adds that if you’re driving during Canada Day celebrations, watch for animals that may be spooked by loud fireworks and run into the road.
It also reminds pedestrians to stand out in the Canada Day crowd by wearing bright, reflective clothing, and to walk facing traffic and to only cross streets at designated crosswalks. Bicyclists can benefit from bright colors and crosswalks, too, though they should ride with traffic.
Finally, call 911 if you see an impaired driver or any potentially dangerous activity, and advise police of problems before they get out of control.
Let’s all celebrate smartly this Canada Day and end the long weekend with nothing but good memories of our country’s 148th birthday.