Alberta’s law enforcement officials have dedicated the month of August to the prevention and awareness of impaired driving.

The first strategy of its kind, Alberta Transportation rolled out an all-encompassing Traffic Safety Plan in 2007 aimed at reducing fatalities, injuries and collisions on provincial highways.

The plan included re-engineering roadways to make them safer, coordinating with local law enforcement, passing preventative legislation and, amongst others, educating Albertans about hazardous driving behaviours.

Included as part of its plan to ensure Alberta’s roadways are safer, the provincial transportation body unveiled its Traffic Safety Plan Calendar, a comprehensive 12-month guide to driving safety and awareness.

“Typically what we do is, we try to position the topics on each month based on our historical stats,” said Jamie Friesen, public affairs officer with Alberta Transportation.

Though the governing transportation body also focuses its awareness campaign on impaired driving throughout the month of December due to Christmas and New Year’s Eve festivities, the warmer months between April to September, and specifically August, bring with it a higher incidence rate of impaired collisions and casualty collisions involving alcohol.

“Right now it’s one of the leading causes of fatalities and injuries on our highways,” Friesen said.

Though impaired-related fatalities have seen a near 25 per cent decrease over a five-year span despite a growing population, that same period has produced more than 43,000 criminal convictions for impaired driving in Alberta.

On average, approximately 8,600 people are convicted of impaired driving in Alberta each year.

Between 2008 and 2012, impaired driving killed 471 people, or an average of more than 90 people per year, while alcohol-related collisions injured 7,397 more, or approximately 1,480 people per year.

In 2012, 4.1 per cent of motorists involved in crashes that resulted in injury and nearly 20 per cent of drivers in fatal collisions had either been drinking or were judged to have been impaired.

That year alone, 78 people were killed and 1,268 more were injured on provincial roads.

“Not to add a pun, but the statistics are very sobering,” Friesen said. “We need to do our best to address it and reduce it.”

Motorists found with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level over .08, or those who refuses to provide a breath sample, are charged under the Criminal Code, have their vehicle seized and immediately receive a suspension to their licence.

Meanwhile, tough consequences are also imposed on drivers found with a BAC level below the criminally impaired limit.

Those found between the .05 and .08 levels will receive an instantaneous three-day licence suspension and a three-day vehicle seizure, but lengths increase for repeat offenders.

The province also implemented harsher sanctions on new motorists carrying a graduated drivers license (GDL) should any alcohol be found in their blood system when behind the wheel, incurring a 30-day licence suspension and seven-day vehicle seizure.

“Impaired driving imposes a tremendous toll on our society — families of victims, families of the impaired driver, our health care system, our legal system — it impairs a tremendous cost on our society and it’s something that needs to be addressed,” Friesen said.

Those interested in more information about penalties and fines can visit, while further material about impaired driving month can be found by visiting

Source: Sherwood Park News


Last updated on: 2014-08-23 | Link to this post