A few decades ago, drinking and driving didn't draw people's scorn like it does today.

The laws concerning this crime were much weaker and the general public didn't have the same awareness of the harms caused by impaired driving.

But things have changed. Attitudes toward drinking and driving have hardened and more people and businesses have sought ways to combat this problem.

More people are realizing that we cannot tolerate anyone operating a vehicle while intoxicated. Recent statistics show that we're getting smarter about this, but there's always more work to be done.

For example, Operation Red Nose in Nanaimo completed another successful season this year. More than 300 volunteers drove nearly 650 vehicles and their passengers home to raise $14,000 for young athletes in the community, the campaign announced on Thursday. Volunteers drove an estimated 14,500 kilometres over the 11-day campaign.

"This was a very exciting and successful campaign," said program coordinator Catharine Edwards, of PacificSport Vancouver Island. "The dedication of our incredible volunteers, the support of our media partners and business sponsors ensured that we fulfilled our mission of making our roads a safer place."

And Nanaimo wasn't alone in this regard. In British Columbia, 4,555 volunteers provided 8,082 rides in numerous communities. The next season will mark three decades for the service, which raises more than $1,500,000 for local non-profits every year.

Meanwhile, the RCMP continued to crack down on impaired drivers with roadblocks during its 2012 holiday Counterattack campaign. But there were fewer drunks busted behind the wheel this year.

Throughout areas policed by the RCMP in B.C., officers handed out 961 impaired-related charges from Dec. 2 to Jan. 2, compared to 1,434 for the same period last year.

"There's been very good media coverage of the new impaired driving legislation and penalties, and I think that's helped people make better choices," said Cpl. Robert McDonald in a news release.

Media coverage may be part of it, but the decline in charges is also likely a sign of society's changing attitudes toward impaired driving. People have known for years that it's wrong, but now more proactive folks are taking steps to prevent it from happening.

More people are volunteering for organizations like Operation Red Nose or are agreeing to remain sober to drive their friends home. Also, businesses are doing their part.

Many pubs and bars in Nanaimo are offering complimentary shuttle services to ensure patrons get home safe. This is also a smart business move, since it sends the message to the community that the establishment cares about its patrons.

B.C.'s tougher drinking and driving laws also likely played a role in officers arresting fewer people for drunk driving. How-ever, we suspect that this trend isn't simply a blip.

People appear to be getting the message that impaired driving is unacceptable. But that's not to say that the situation can't be improved.

Hundreds of people are convicted of drunk driving every year in B.C., despite changing attitudes and tougher laws. There will always be a few individuals who are determined to break the law and put others at risk.

Stopping drinking and driving isn't only up to the RCMP - it takes the entire community to make a difference. Let's hope that even more effort will be put into stopping this crime in 2013.

Souce:  Daily News


Last updated on: 2013-01-04 | Link to this post