Have you ever taken a breathalyzer test before?
In recent weeks, Prince George drivers have been randomly selected by RCMP, RoadSafetyBC, and Mothers Against Drunk Driving Canada (MADD) to do so as part of a province-wide alcohol and drug driving survey taking place until the end of the month.
MADD Canada CEO Andrew Murie says PG is one of five BC communities in this initative.
“We also know that in some of the rural communities, the results are even higher given the circumstances as opposed to the urban centres. So, that’s why communities like Prince George are chosen for the survey to get a sense of what Northern BC is like.”
Check-points are set up at unknown locations, where police give residents the choice of participating in the test, and if they choose to provide a sample, they are rewarded with a $10 gas card.
Those who agree to the test but are over the legal limit will not be charged or written up, but will have their keys taken and offered a safe ride home by a non-impaired driver.
With cannabis legalization on the horizon, MADD Prince George branch spokesperson Tracy Crawford says this gives researchers a sense of how bad drug-impaired driving is right now.
“It’s really all about working with the government to say what the survey is providing, and then what MADD can do on a local level to educate the public about what is cannabis? What are the dangers of driving impaired by cannabis? What are the dangers of driving under alcohol? And, again, encouraging the entire public to be very proactive into keeping the road safe by calling 9-1-1, or taking the keys away. So it’s really about wanting to partner with them to get more Road Safety initiatives out in the community.”
Crawford adds this is more than about putting distracted and impaired drivers off the road.
“We’re targeting certain age groups as well. It’s very important for us to make sure we get the message out to all age groups, but if there’s sort of a key age group that’s identified from this survey, then it does help provide targeted education opportunities on improving overall road safety in our community.”
According to MADD Canada, the last survey in 2012 showed primarily men and anyone aged 19 to 24 were most likely to drive high.
Residents who are pulled over are also given an online resource for more information on alcohol and drug driving in Prince George.