Nfld. & Labrador

St. John's tops Canadian metro regions for alcohol- and drug-impaired driving

St. John's has the dubious distinction of having the highest rate of impaired driving, whether through drinking or drugs.

Provincial rate closer to national average

St. John's tops all Canadian metropolitan areas with its rate of impaired driving. (Eddy Kennedy/CBC)

St. John's has the dubious distinction of having the highest rate of impaired driving, whether through drinking or drugs.

Statistics Canada released a report Wednesday on impaired driving in Canada, which found that in 2015 the St. John's census metropolitan area (including Paradise, Mount Pearl and Conception Bay South) topped all other cities in the country.

Statistics Canada said there were 846 incidents of alcohol- or drug-impaired driving in the St. John's area in 2015, for a rate of 411 incidents for every 100,000 people. That puts it ahead of every other census metropolitan area in Canada with more than 100,000 people — and it's not even close.

The impaired driving rate in St. John's is 27 per cent higher than second-place Kelowna, B.C., with a rate of 323 incidents per 100,000 in population.

St. John's leads despite overall drop

St. John's also tops the list despite seeing a 15 per cent drop in impaired driving from 2014. That reflects an overall downward trend for impaired driving, which is at its lowest level since data started being collected, in 1986.

Outside of St. John's, the police-reported rate is lower. 261 incidents per 100,000 population, behind Saskatchewan (575), Alberta (314), Nova Scotia (281) and Prince Edward Island (264). Among the territories, the Northwest Territories and the Yukon have more than double the rate of Canada-leading Saskatchewan, with 1,211 and 1,210 incidents per 100,000 population respectively.

Highest among provinces for drug-impaired driving

But when the drug-impaired driving data are examined separately, Newfoundland and Labrador has the highest rate among the provinces: 23 incidents per 100,000 population, a rate that went up eight per cent from 2014. Each of the territories has a higher rate, however, with the Northwest Territories and the Yukon each at 32 and Nunavut at 30.

Among the report's other findings:

  • Drug-impaired driving is less likely to result in a charge than alcohol-impaired driving;
  • Most people charged with impaired driving are men, but the proportion of women is rising
  • Drivers under 20 years old saw the biggest decline in impaired driving rates
  • About half of all impaired driving incidents happen on the weekend, one-quarter of them on Saturday;
  • Playing team sports is associated with a higher probability of drinking and driving.