Alarming impaired driving trends continue on Island

Drinking and driving is an alarming trend and depsite inroads to curb the offence, police say there is an alarming trend on P.E.I.

RCMP say 165 Islanders have been charged with impaired driving this year

Drinking and driving claims hundreds of lives every year and despite inroads to curb the offence, police say there is an alarming trend on P.E.I.  

A driver involved in a fatal crash on Monday near New Annan, P.E.I. is facing a charge of impaired driving causing death.  

Paul Gerard Cormier, 53, of Summerside was killed when the car he was a passenger in crashed.

The 57-year-old driver facing charges, whose name hasn't been made public, had a blood alcohol level over the legal limit, said RCMP Sgt. Andrew Blackadar. 

Blackadar said he wasn't surprised.  

"I wasn't shocked when I heard the age of the driver of the vehicle. The readings were fairly high," he said. "That didn't shock me.  Those are the trends that we're really seeing."

The RCMP said 165 Islanders have been charged with impaired driving this year. Most have either been under the age of 25 or over the age of 55.

Blackadar said an increasing number have been two to three times above the legal limit. The alarming trend is those that they're catching have much higher readings than they did a year ago, he said.

Andrew Murie, Mothers Against Drug Driving Canada CEO, called it a scary trend.

"That in itself is one of the reasons why crashes happen, because the blood alcohol is way too high for any kind of driving and ability to control the car," he said. 

Monday's fatality was the ninth road death this year on P.E.I. and the fifth one police have linked to alcohol.  

"I think the big way to stop this is not necessarily enforcement. It's a combination of a number of things, and one of them is peer pressure," said Blackadar.  

"I think people have to step up, not get in vehicles when somebody's drinking and driving, or if they know somebody's leaving a place after consuming alcohol, take their keys and stop them from drinking and driving."  

Murie suggests other ways to curb drinking and driving, for instance if people on the road suspect someone is driving under the influence, call 911. He suggests that impounding vehicles is another way to deter drunk drivers.

"These are the types of techniques that can actually stop a tragedy before it happens," said Murie.

It's not all bad news Blackadar said. There has been a 20 per cent drop in the number of impaired driving charges handed out this year compared to last. 

Though he acknowledges, there are still hundreds of Islanders not getting the message and putting lives at risk.