Volume 95, Issue 50

Thursday, November 29, 2001
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License to kill

Editorial Cartoon

Editorial Board 2001-2002

License to kill

Drunk driving may be down, but it is definitely not out. In fact, it is still a significant problem in Canadian society.

According to a recent survey conducted by the Traffic Injury Research Foundation, 7.3 per cent of Canadian drivers say they have driven at some point over the past year while, they believed, their blood alcohol level was over the legal limit.

Students are of particular concern.

The majority of drunk driving awareness and prevention methods come close to a stop after students leave high school. Adding to the lack of awareness programs, university-age students in Ontario make a transition from a G2 license to a G license.

A driver with a G2 license must at all times have zero alcohol in their bloodstream. However, once a G2 holder graduates to a G license, they may drive with 0.08 per cent blood alcohol level. For students, this can have major ramifications.

Most undergraduates, usually aged 18-24, are relatively new at the drinking game. Drinking is a learning process like any other and most students still do not fully understand what their limit of alcohol is before they get into a vehicle.

One must consider a variety of factors such as fatigue, what the person had eaten prior to drinking and how alcohol affects their emotional state. Most students have not fully charted the depths of all these factors and most importantly, no one can ever fully predict what influence alcohol may have at any given dosage.

Adding to the lack of predictability governing alcohol, awareness is often shortsighted as well.

Universities often lack proper educational campaigns to deter this unacceptable behaviour. Furthermore, most bars often neglect to undertake the incentive they should to promote awareness. Signs can be very effective and cost little.

Breathalyzers in bars and nightclubs are always a good idea, as is providing designated drivers with free pop in order to ease the pressure to join the crowd and drink.

The legal amount of blood-alcohol content in Canada is second only to parts of the United States among industrialized nations. Organizations like Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the Canadian Medical Association are suggesting the legal limit be lowered from the current 0.08 per cent to 0.05 per cent, as they claim Canadian laws are 35 years behind the times.

It stands to reason a lower legal blood-alcohol limit would raise the amount of precaution taken when driving after drinking, since fewer drinks would be permissible before operating a motor vehicle.

It would also raise further awareness and foster change, while demonstrating the government's eagerness to crack down on irresponsible individuals. Awareness is the number one key to helping solve this inherent problem.

Further steps must be taken to reduce the number of drunk driving incidents, in order to ensure a driver's license doesn't become a license to kill.

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Copyright The Gazette 2001