Quebec is proposing that all Canada’s provinces and territories seek a Supreme Court of Canada ruling to authorize random breath testing for drivers.

Transport Minister Sylvain Gaudreault said Friday he wants to follow up on the third report of an advisory body to the government on safety, the Table québécoise de la sécurité routière, which supports Quebec’s position. The table was created in 2005 and previously recommended photo radar and a ban on using mobile phones while driving.

Université Laval mathematics professor Jean-Marie de Koninck, who heads the safety table, said random breath testing is done in Britain and Australia and has proven a successful deterrent to drunk driving.

According to the safety table’s report, in Australian states where the random testing was introduced, highway deaths dropped between 19 per cent and 35 per cent between 1988 and 1992.

In Quebec, a poll for the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec mentioned found that 35 per cent of Quebec drivers are not afraid they will be stopped by police after consuming alcohol or drugs before driving. The safety table’s report did not provide dates for when the study was conducted.

Gaudreault said Quebec is hoping for a commitment from the other provinces and territories to the Supreme Court reference case at a ministerial meeting next month in Yellowknife.

The Quebec minister explained that under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, police have to have a reason to stop people.

De Koninck said on a recent visit to Australia, he was stopped by police. When he rolled down the window he immediately had to blow into a breath analysis machine.

“The limit is 0.05 per cent alcohol there,” de Koninck said. Below that level, police allow the driver to move on. Above 0.05, they are detained.

De Koninck also wants the same fines for drivers impaired by drugs as for alcohol, allowing police to suspend the driving permit and seize the vehicle of someone impaired with drugs, as now is the case with alcohol impairment.

The safety table also noted that currently, Quebec drivers under 18 cannot be fined more than $100 for speeding or other traffic offences.

Gaudreault said he agrees drivers under 18 should face the same consequences as older drivers.

De Koninck called for an awareness campaign, directed at young drivers, to inform them the risk of accident is higher in the presence of passengers in their age group and the risk increases with as the number of young passengers grows.

Quebec drivers off the island of Montreal have been allowed to turn right on a red light since 2003. The safety table reviewed the safety of this practice and found that six pedestrians, all over age 65, died when drivers turning did not see them.

De Koninck said not all drivers are aware they must still make a full stop at a red light before they turn, calling for an awareness campaign on this point as well.

Asked whether right turns on red lights would be allowed on Montreal Island, Gaudreault said it was up to those municipalities to make the request, which they have not done.

Source: The Montreal Gazette


Last updated on: 2013-11-14 | Link to this post