A new Road Safety Monitor (RSM) poll was published in December. The RSM is an annual public opinion survey conducted by the Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF). The survey reports on key road safety issues by means of an on-line survey of a random, representative sample of Canadian drivers.
In 2010, the most recent year for which data are available, 744 Canadians were killed in a traffic crash involving a drinking driver. This is slightly higher than 2009 (714), but below the 2008 number (790). An overall decreasing trend in alcohol related deaths was emerging from 2006 through 2009, but it is not clear whether this trend will continue when considering the 2010 data.
When looking at the percentage of persons killed in a traffic crash in Canada involving a drinking driver out of all persons killed in traffic crashes on principal roadways in 2010, 33.6% of fatal crashes involved a drinking driver. This percentage has decreased from a high of 38.8% in 1995 and has been fairly consistent since 1997 remaining below 35%.
Current data suggests that there has been an increase from 3.6% in 2012 to 6.6% in 2014 among respondents who claimed to have driven when they thought they were over the legal limit. According to the report, this trend may be cause for concern and will require further monitoring. Once more recent fatality data become available for analysis, these can be compared with trends in drinking and driving to provide a more complete picture of the problem.
When comparing drinking and driving to other road safety issues (rather than societal issues), in 2014 drinking drivers were rated as a very or extremely serious problem by 73.1% of Canadians (compared to 76.7% in 2013 and 88% in 2006). When asked if the issue of young drivers impaired by alcohol was a very or extremely serious problem, 69.2% of respondents agreed in 2014. This is lower than 2010 when 82.2% of respondents who cited that this was a very or extremely serious problem. In 2014, respondents were also asked about how concerned they were about four other road safety issues. Young drivers impaired by drugs (65.1%), drugged drivers (59.5%), older drivers impaired by prescription drugs (46.9%), and wild animals crossing or standing in roadways (28.4%) were considered to be less problematic than drinking and driving and young drivers impaired by alcohol. The report concludes that although the issue of drinking and driving in general, and drinking and driving by young drivers in particular, appears to be regarded as a less serious problem than in past years, a majority of respondents continue to believe that this issue is an important one.