It’s important for elected officials to know that Canadians support this initiative and want to see significant advances in the effort to end impaired driving. Part of the reason this initiative was successful in the United States is because 9 out of 10 Americans support technology that is integrated into a car’s electronics to prevent drunk driving, according to an Ipsos poll. Your voice matters and can help bring this life-saving technology to Canada.
This technology is nothing like the alcohol ignition interlock which requires a breath sample before the car will start. All of these new technologies are passive, meaning the driver does not have to do anything. These technologies will not require a breath test; they will be non-invasive, unobtrusive and virtually invisible to sober drivers.
The majority of people make responsible choices and never drive impaired. But as the headlines – and our memorial monuments for victims of impaired driving – show, there are still a great number of people who do take this risk. All too often, it results in crashes that kill or injure people. This technology does not take away the ability for people to drive. It does not take away the ability for people to enjoy a few drinks. It takes away the ability for them to drive impaired and put themselves and others at risk. It makes the roads safer for everyone.
We agree that we need sentences that reflect the magnitude and gravity of this crime. But when it comes to preventing impaired driving deaths and injuries – and isn’t that the ultimate goal – sentencing has a limited deterrent impact. No one ever thinks they are going to be THAT driver who causes a crash that kills or injures someone, so they are unlikely to be deterred by a strong sentence imposed on someone else. Technology exists to prevent that crash, that death, that injury in the first place. Why wouldn’t we want to spare victims and families the grief, loss and devastation caused by impaired driving crashes if we could? That is what this technology offers.
That is a fair question and the answer is that we don’t know yet. That is part of what needs to be assessed and reviewed in a Government study. One estimate we have heard is that it may cost manufacturers a couple of hundred dollars to install it. (Link:) So that’s a reasonable cost. But we would ask people to look at it from a different perspective. What would someone who has lost a loved one – a child, a parent, a life partner – pay to have them back. What would someone who has suffered permanent and debilitating injuries pay to have their health and mobility back? And from a second perspective – impaired driving costs billions of dollars each year in health, enforcement and other costs. This technology would reduce those costs significantly.
We sometimes hear people say the impaired driving has been largely solved and it leaves us frustrated and shocked. Yes, there has been progress in reducing impaired driving, but make no mistake – it still happens far too often. Impaired driving charges and provincial sanctions reached nearly 87,000 in 2019. That’s a huge number of impaired drivers. Worst of all, hundreds of Canadians are killed and thousands are injured each year in impaired driving crashes. The impaired driving problem is far from solved. But this technology has the potential to virtually eliminate it.
We hope to see similar in-car technology for cannabis detection in the future, but the reality is, we aren’t there yet.
We recognize and understand the concerns about privacy. This technology is designed to temporarily disable a vehicle for the purposes of preventing impaired driving. We are not calling for the use of this technology to compromise a person’s privacy.
© MADD 2023