York Regional Police cruiser

York Regional Police cruiser (Greg Ross/CBC)

Nine people were killed in impaired driving incidents in York Region in 2016, prompting police to call it one of the worst recent years they've seen for impaired driving deaths.

There were 1,265 impaired driving incidents last year, up 10 from 2015, and police say these numbers are continually increasing.

85 per cent of impaired drivers who were arrested were men, and almost half ranged in age from 22 to 34.

Nearly half of the women arrested were 26 to 45 years old.

These statistics follow several recent impaired driving campaigns that York police have launched on social media targeting young drivers and adults.

Their #ImTHATPerson campaign encourages everyone to report drunk drivers or take their keys.

Part of the campaign's message is that police also need the public's help to stop impaired drivers.

In the last year, police have laid 1,626 impaired driving charges, slightly down from 2015.

81 of those charges involved driving under the influence of drugs. Drug-impaired charges were up 69 per cent from 2015, and drivers were found to be under the influence of marijuana, cocaine, ketamine, fentanyl, and prescription medications.

"These incredibly disappointing numbers must serve as a wake-up call that something has to change," said York Regional Police Chief Eric Jolliffe. 

"It's alarming that prior to the pending legalization of marijuana we are seeing this spike of drivers impaired by drugs. In light of the continued warnings about the dangers of impaired driving from police services across Canada, it's shocking that anyone feels they have the right to risk the lives of innocent people by drinking alcohol or using drugs and getting behind the wheel of a vehicle."

The number of people charged after drinking at a home before driving instead of a bar or club has also increased.

"I can assure our community that York Regional Police is not giving up. We will continue to use education, enforcement and every tool at our disposal in our fight against impaired driving," said Jolliffe.