Mothers Marching on Parliament Hill in Support of Random Breath Testing
Oakville, Ontario, May 9, 2012 – This Mother’s Day, May 13, will be especially hard for Christie Ward. Not only will it be another Mother’s Day spent without her daughter Kirsta Sandy, it also would have been Kirsta's 22nd birthday.
Kirsta was killed in an impaired driving crash in 2008. She was 18 years old.
“Every day without Kirsta is hard. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about her, that I don’t miss her,” Ms. Ward said. “But on those occasions where families get together to celebrate, and on days like Mother’s Day and her birthday especially, it can be overwhelming. There are no words strong enough to describe how much I miss her.”
Ms. Ward is one of a small group of mothers who is visiting Parliament Hill today for a short march to draw attention to random breath testing, an impaired driving countermeasure that will save lives and prevent injuries. The mothers, all of whom have lost a child or had a child injured in an impaired driving crash, will also meet individually with some Members of Parliament to ask for their support for this life-saving measure.
“Our Mother’s Day March illustrates the tragic losses and devastation caused by impaired driving,” said Denise Dubyk, MADD Canada’s National President. “But these moms represent everyone – not only mothers, but fathers, grandparents, children, aunts and uncles, friends – everyone who has been affected by impaired driving.”
“Impaired driving kills more than one thousand people a year and causes tens of thousands of injuries,” Ms. Dubyk said. “Random breath testing is a proven effective measure in reducing impaired driving, yet we are still waiting for its introduction in Canada. We are here today to urge the Government and Members of Parliament to move forward with random breath testing.”
Random breath testing would authorize police to demand a roadside breath sample from all drivers stopped at sobriety checkpoints, greatly increasing the number of drivers screened and the deterrent impact of impaired driving laws. The current law is not an effective deterrent because the likelihood of being stopped, charged and convicted is very low. Survey, criminal charge and conviction data indicate that a person would have to drive impaired, on average, once a week for more than 3 years before being charged with an impaired driving offence, and for over 6 years before ever being convicted.
In June of 2009, the Federal Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights released its report, Ending Alcohol-Impaired Driving: A Common Approach. One of the key recommendations in the report was the introduction of random breath testing in Canada. Like numerous jurisdictions around the world and international traffic safety organizations, the Committee recognized the effectiveness of this impaired driving countermeasure and the benefits it would have in Canada in the effort to reduce impaired driving crashes, deaths and injuries. Despite the recommendation and the evidence supporting random breath testing’s effectiveness, the Government of Canada has not moved forward to implement a random breath testing program.
Not only is random breath testing a proven measure for reducing impaired driving, it is highly cost-effective and already has considerable public support in Canada:
- Jurisdictions that have introduced random breath testing programs achieved significant, sustained reductions in impaired driving and alcohol-related deaths and injuries. It is likely that Canada will see crash reductions in the same range as Ireland since the two countries have similar types of sobriety check stops and similar requirements around reasonable suspicion to demand breath samples. Applying a projected 20% reduction, it is estimated that random breath testing could save more than 200 lives and prevent more than 12,000 injuries each year.
- A 2010 Ipsos Reid poll indicated 77% of Canadians would support random breath testing.
- A recent MADD Canada study estimated random breath testing would save approximately $4.3 billion a year in health-related expenditures, lost productivity and other social costs.
“When we look at comparable democracies, the majority have random breath testing,” Ms. Dubyk said. “We are out of step with other countries and everyone needs to ask why we don’t have this life-saving measure in Canada.”
For more information on random breath testing and how it can reduce impaired driving in Canada, visit madd.ca.
About MADD Canada
MADD Canada (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) is a national, charitable organization that is committed to stopping impaired driving and supporting the victims of this violent crime. With volunteer-driven groups in more than 100 communities across Canada, MADD Canada aims to offer support services to victims, heighten awareness of the dangers of impaired driving and save lives and prevent injuries on our roads. For more information, visit www.madd.ca.
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