May 25, 2014 - CALGARY'S 911 LINE SEES SPIKE IN NUMBER OF DRUNK DRIVING REPORTS

Denise Dubyk of Mothers Against Drunk Driving who help push the RID program.

The move to make impaired driving reports a police dispatch priority has prompted more Calgarians to pick up the phone.

In October 2009, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) launched Campaign 911, also known as Report Impaired Drivers (RID), in partnership with police and other agencies, encouraging Calgarians to phone 911 if they spotted a suspected drunk behind the wheel.

Previously, impaired driving reports were not necessarily considered emergencies.

“They fell lower on the priority list for call dispatching,” said Calgary police traffic Staff Sgt. Paul Stacey.

“Now, regardless of what is going on, they get dispatched right away.”

Since the campaign launched, the number of impaired driving calls to police has skyrocketed, from 7,011 in 2008 — the year before RID was introduced — to 11,462 in 2013.

The proportion of impaired driving calls received through 911 climbed from 52.5% to 67.9% in the same period, according to police stats.

And the number of impaired driving calls received via 911, as opposed to through the non-emergency line, has increased 112% four years after the implementation of the program.

“It shows that society is taking an active role reporting impaired driving, which in the long term helps prevent future impaired driving issues,” said Stacey.

The increase in reports is also encouraging for Denise Dubyk, who was a regional director for MADD in 2009 and sat on a committee to get RID launched.

“I get excited when I see this because it shows the program is working,” she said.

“I just thank everyone who makes those calls.”

The number of impaired driving charges laid based on calls to 911 climbed from 189 in 2008, to 327 in 2013.

The overall number of impaired driving charges laid was down 14.3% between 2008 and 2013 while the number of people charged with impaired driving was down about 11% in that period.

Stacey explained an increased number of reports does not necessarily result in an increased number of overall charges.

“Not every call we’re called to is actually an impaired driver,” said Stacey, adding many suspected drunks are actually people on their phones or just plain “shoddy drivers.”

Just because a call is placed, doesn’t mean a drunk driving charge is warranted, he said, but added it’s better to have a call about nothing than no call about something.

It’s also possible, he said, that awareness being created by campaigns like RID combined with tougher laws, such as Alberta’s 0.05 legislation, have helped discourage some people from driving drunk in the first place.

“It has become so socially unacceptable to drink and drive,” Stacey said.

Dubyk hopes that’s the case.

“My thought is, with the awareness and the community becoming responsible by phoning it in, it acts as a deterrent,” she said.

Source: The Calgary Sun


 

Last updated on: 2014-05-30 | Link to this post