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A recent survey released by MADD Canada indicates Canadians are still not getting the message when it comes to not driving while impaired.

In the survey, one in ten Canadians drove a vehicle knowing they were impaired by alcohol and half of them had a passenger. MADD Canada calls this alarming as the numbers show one in ten Canadians still think it’s all right to drive after drinking, using cannabis or other illicit drugs and feel its not a big deal.

MADD is made up of many volunteers who have experienced tragedy because of impaired drivers. For an organization who has worked tirelessly on getting the message out about impaired driving, to hear that many think impaired driving is not a big deal must be disheartening. It’s made even worse when you think about how people are not only concerned about their own safety, but the safety of others.

So what can be done to make sure people are getting the message that impaired driving is stupid? Education is key, but is that all, since education doesn’t seem to be enough. Stiffer penalties for those charged with impaired driving? Will that drive the message home? What can change peoples’ attitudes around impaired driving, something MADD has been trying to do for decades.

Could it be improving infrastructure so there are more options instead of driving impaired?

While there’s never a good excuse to get behind the wheel when impaired, there’s no indication of those who were surveyed by MADD if they lived in urban or rural areas.

In urban areas, there are definitely a lot more options to avoid driving when impaired. There are taxi services, buses and subways. Also, those living in cities are more than likely in walking distance to a local bar, meaning they can leave their vehicles at home. That’s not the case in most rural areas.

West Prince is the only place on PEI that doesn’t currently have a taxi company operating in the area. And without access to public transit, it can be difficult for a wide range of residents in the region to get around.

Better access to public transit could possibly reduce the number of DUIs or accidents on PEI’s highways because people would have access to alternative modes of transportation, where they might choose not to drink and drive if they knew they could catch a bus. Ride-sharing could be another option.

But no matter where you live, people have to realize that driving impaired is never worth it. And getting in a vehicle with an impaired driver is never all right either.

As always, Canadians can help to keep roads and communities safe by planning ahead for a sober ride home, and by calling 911 to report suspected impaired drivers.

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