Summer has arrived to the Kootenays and that means many will be cooling off with an icy alcoholic beverage. It also means area police will be on the lookout for those who hop behind the wheel after one too many.
The Nelson Police Department, in conjunction with the RCMP’s Integrated Road Safety Unit, will be kicking off the summer impaired driving checkstop program later this week. Checkstops will be set up in the Nelson area with the intent of targeting impaired drivers as the summer season begins.
Police say young people have the highest rates of traffic death and injury per year among all the age groups and the highest death rate per kilometer driven among all drivers under 75 years of age. More 19-year-olds die or are seriously injured than any other age group.
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among 15 to 25 year olds, and alcohol is a factor in 50 per cent of those crashes. Police say that 16-25 year olds made up 13.7 per cent of the population in 2009, but were involved in almost 31.1 per cent of the alcohol-related traffic deaths.
Young drinking drivers are most likely to be killed or injured in the summer (32.4 per cent and 40.8 per cent respectively) and least likely to be killed or injured in the winter (8 per cent and 11.4 per cent respectively).
Police say that driving while impaired by drugs is also “a serious concern.” Police say most young people see cannabis as a benign drug, far less dangerous than alcohol.
“They think driving under the influence of cannabis is risk free, despite the evidence that shows cannabis can shorten attention span, alter perception of time and distance and slow reaction times – all of which impair the driver’s ability to respond to sudden events in traffic,” says a police press release.