Volume 91, Issue 46

Wednesday, November 19, 1997



More drivers arrive alive and police take new measures

By Sara Marett
Gazette Staff

A Statistics Canada report released this week confirms that drinking and driving is becoming increasingly politically incorrect.

The survey found the number of people charged with impaired driving and the number of impaired driver fatalities have been declining since the early 1980s.

The report suggests the decline of either of the two activities of drinking and driving may be the cause of a decrease in the number of impaired driving incidents. However, results found the total volume of gasoline and alcoholic beverages sales has increased in the past five years.

Some are doubtful of the findings of the survey, stating the declining numbers are only representative of decreased measures to regulate impaired driving. With less funding to city police departments for RIDE programs, less impaired drivers will be caught, said Sgt. Rod Trevor of the London Police Department.

He said there are currently 29 RIDE programs in London per year, usually at peak times such as Homecoming and holidays. "There is always the need for more RIDE programs, but it all comes down to funding," he said.

London police have started a new initiative this month in hopes of reducing impaired driving in the city. When an arrest takes place, the impaired driver is asked where they were consuming alcohol and this information is recorded, Trevor said. If a certain drinking establishment is repeatedly mentioned, there will be measures taken by the police.

Dan Serruya, part-owner of the Shot pool pub and bar in London, said this program is a good step to take but only half a step. "They should be also checking into those who report they were consuming alcohol at house parties, otherwise it leaves a lot of grey areas," he said.

Serruya said as a bar owner, he feels a legal and moral obligation to ensure the safety of his patrons. "We have a responsibility greater than what we are bound to by the Liquor Licence Act. If the study reports the numbers are going down, that's good, but there still has to be responsibility on behalf of the establishments to make sure it happens even less."

The London chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving is launching their red-ribbon campaign today at Western. Campaign coordinator Sandra Thom said MADD continues to lobby the government to lower the level of blood alcohol concentration which constitutes impairment.

Western's alcohol awareness team will have a booth in the atrium this week for students to take part in the red-ribbon campaign, said coordinator Jen Palisoc.

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Copyright The Gazette 1997