Sep 04, 2017 - THE TRAGIC IMPACT OF IMPAIRED DRIVING

According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving Canada, more than 65,000 Canadians are impacted by impaired drivers annually. Everyday, four people are killed and 175 others are injured.

Despite those sobering statistics, impaired men and women throughout Nova Scotia continue to make that potentially life-altering decision to get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle.

In an effort to publicize the level of enforcement on provincial roadways, the RCMP releases a quarterly provincial report on drivers charged for driving impaired by alcohol or drug.

From April 1 to June 30, the RCMP members charged 247 individuals with driving while impaired — 196 by alcohol, 16 by drug, and 35 with refusal to participate in a field sobriety test. In addition, the RCMP issued 148 suspensions for operating a motor vehicle while having consumed alcohol.

During the first six months of 2017, 13 individuals have been charged with alcohol-related impaired driving following fatal or serious-injury collisions.

The chance of an impaired person getting pulled over, tested and charged is high, as road safety is a priority for the RCMP and the province’s various municipal police services.

The RCMP, for example, has about 200 members who have received specialized training to detect impaired drivers. They also have drug recognition evaluators who are trained to determine if a person is suffering from the effects of illegal or prescription drugs, illness or fatigue.

Cpl. Jennifer Clarke, an RCMP media relations officer, said she has been in policing for more than 21 years and impaired driving has always been a serious problem.

“We deal with it on a daily basis. People who drive impaired don’t think of the consequences, particularly when they have had a drink or two,” said Clarke. “There are always alternatives to driving, such as calling a taxi, assigning a designated driver, even crashing on someone’s couch.”

With the surging wave of Baby Boomers accessing the province’s health-care system, prescription drugs are becoming a noticeable part of the impaired-driving spectrum.

“I would remind people it’s really important to heed the warnings on the prescription labels. They are placed there for a reason by people who understand the effects of those drugs,” said Clarke.

Operating any type of motorized vehicle while impaired by alcohol, illegal drugs or prescription medication is viewed by law enforcement agencies as reckless behaviour.

“The tragedies caused by this behaviour were all preventable. Someone made a decision to consume alcohol or a drug, then get behind the wheel. That decision has a lasting effect on many people, including family, friends, people who witnessed the tragedy and first responders,” said Clarke.

One of those first responders is Chris Kennedy, fire services co-ordinator/administrator with the Municipality of the District of Lunenburg.

A former fire chief and volunteer firefighter for 25 years, Kennedy and his colleagues throughout the district have seen their share of tragedies on the roads. Some of those images can’t be unseen.

Kennedy said adrenalin and muscle memory kicks in when first responders arrive at the scene of a serious crash. First responders do what they are trained to do. Afterwards, when they return to the fire hall, police station or ambulance base, the impact of what they saw starts to hit home.

“When you come off that automatic-pilot mode and you start thinking about what just happened, that’s when it really hits you. It’s senseless and there’s nothing you can do about it,” said Kennedy.

“I recently talked with volunteer firefighters who are still struggling with the memory of something they were involved with many years ago,” he said.

“When first responders deal with a gruesome scene, those images are etched in their minds. You can never forget it. Sometimes things happen that trigger that image. It’s like a monkey on your back.”

Firefighters can request post-scene help from the critical-incident stress team at the Fire Services Association of Nova Scotia, while other first-responder agencies offer their own specialized services.

“The mental state of first responders is kept much more stable than in the past. The counselling programs help them to continue responding to these types of tragic scenes,” said Kennedy.

The RCMP encourages citizens to report suspected impaired drivers by calling 911.

SIGNS OF AN IMPAIRED DRIVER INCLUDE:

-Driving unreasonably fast, slow or at an inconsistent speed.

-Drifting in and out of lanes.

-Tailgating and changing lanes frequently.

-Making exceptionally wide turns.

-Changing lanes or passing without sufficient clearance.

-Overshooting or stopping well before stop signs or stop lights.

-Disregarding signals and lights.

-Approaching signals or leaving intersections too quickly or slowly.

-Driving without headlights, failing to lower high beams or leaving on turn signals.

-Driving with windows open in cold or inclement weather.

Once they call 911, citizens will be asked to provide the following:

-Location.

-Description of vehicle observed, including colour, make and model and licence plate number.

-Direction of travel.

-Description of driver if visible.

The bottom line from the first-responder community is simple: If you or someone else believes you are impaired, don’t even think of driving. Your decision could save lives, including your own.

Source: The Chronicle Herald


 

Last updated on: 2017-10-26 | Link to this post