Plan ahead for a safe holiday on the Saanich Peninsula

Impaired driving is still a leading cause of death in Canada

RCMP Constable Scott Seutter with the Sidney North Saanich RCMP

Many know the social consequences of impaired driving, but still continue to take that risk, a risk which has led to Canada’s leading criminal cause of death.

Cst. Scott Seutter with Sidney North Saanich RCMP said more people die at the hands of impaired driving than any other crime or all crimes added together in Canada.

The most common times, statistically from ICBC are between 9 p.m. and 3 a.m.

From Jan. 1 2015, Sidney North Saanich RCMP removed 126 people from roadways due to alcohol. This year, from Jan. 1 2016, they removed 111 people.

From ICBC’s perspective, 10 people die each year on Vancouver Island due to impaired driving related incidents.

Within Sidney and North Saanich, officers, on any given weekend evening, are setting up co-ordinated road checks where they are checking all drivers on the roads to detect, screen and apprehend impaired drivers.

“Whether that impairment is through alcohol or by drugs, both are investigated in a diligent matter,” said Seutter.

In terms of prevention, they’re encouraging drivers to plan ahead for a safe ride home, whether that involves designated drivers, public transportation, etc.

Seutter said ultimately if people can’t get any of those arranged, they’re asking people to abstain from consuming alcohol.

“If you can’t trust yourself to consume alcohol and be a sober driver, don’t consume alcohol.”

Each year — and this year it was on Dec. 3 — Sidney North Saanich RCMP partner with ICBC for what they call Light Up the Highway Campaign.

This involves law enforcement from the Greater Victoria Area and all the way up Vancouver Island, from Victoria to Port Hardy to set up co-ordinated road checks on their provincial highways through those areas.

“They (ICBC) had their college crash car (they call it) and we were set up on the Malahat on Highway 1 near the  south Shawnigan Lake Road exit.”

Sidney North Saanich RCMP also have their school liaison George Phipps, who through his programs like D.A.R.E., speaks at local high schools, providing a message of deterrents and abstaining, especially with youth.

“We know that driver’s that possess their learner’s or their novice licenses are prohibited from having any alcohol in their body whatsoever and that’s the message that we’re teaching them — is to abstain until such time as they are legal,” said Seutter.

Seutter said they want to thank citizens of the Saanich Peninsula who call 911 to report impaired drivers.

“It happens on a fairly regular basis and we really do thank people for having a social conscience,” he said.

He said when people see a driver they feel is impaired, they encourage them to notify 911 to give RCMP the opportunity to apprehend those persons and remove them off the roadways

“We also thank our citizens for their patience when they come through our road checks.

“Sometimes on the highway, they’ve got to wait five to 10 minutes to get through the road check, but our officers are standing out every weekend in the cold, snow, in the rain  trying to keep our community safe.

“And we appreciate the patience from our community citizens just to give us the time to get through our drivers.”