June 17th, 2024

Local strategies key to reducing impaired driving: IDCC

By Troy Bannerman - Lethbridge Herald Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on December 17, 2022.

The Impaired Driving Coalition of Canada (IDCC) has been organized by the Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF) to share research and information with its partners, fellow researchers, and local communities to raise awareness and create tools and strategies to improve road safety and create safer communities.

“The IDCC is really to raise awareness of the issue of impaired driving,” said TIRF CEO Robyn Robertson. “Which is particularly important right now because in the last few years we’ve seen risk taking on the road increase in relation to several issues. And there’s also a significant number of organizations that are focused on and concerned about the issue of impaired driving. So, we thought it would be a good way to optimize in bringing those organizations together to really innovate, to share knowledge, and expertise, and ideas. And to build on work that has already been produced. And to leverage some of the good work that’s already been done and then further build on that.”

Expanding on the importance of the timing and the changing road hazards, Robertson argues things like cannabis legalization have added a new dynamic to enforcement.

“The increasing concern around impaired driving, not just alcohol, but cannabis and other drugs as well, and with the legalization of recreational cannabis which has had an impact on impaired driving, and then the general increases in risk taking we’ve seen on Canadian roads, we thought we need to work together to on the issue of impaired driving. All the partners represent a wide variety of different organizations from government, to insurers, to policing, to car manufacturers, health professionals, to other safety and advocacy organizations. So, really a multi-sectoral initiative, and again we all have strengths and expertise in different areas, taking a different tact, looking at the issue. So, we wanted to bring all of those ideas together and those organizations because we are all working towards the same goal. So, we wanted to harness some of that energy and some of that good work to take to the next level.”

Studying the relevant data can often result in development of new approaches to keeping impaired drivers off the roads.

“We’re going to work with police, and with public health, and with trauma centres, and municipalities to look at their local data, look at where, and among whom impaired driving is occurring to illustrate how customized resources can be built. Broad general messaging is good and it creates awareness, but for people to change their behaviour messaging has to be personally relevant, meaning people have to see themselves in the situation. So, we wanted to tackle that issue,” said Robertson. “We wanted to show communities how to tap into some more local sources of data and use that to build customized awareness and education strategies that are relevant to their demographic and their community.”

Tackling the problem of impaired driving in Canada begins at the grassroots, local level, according to Robertson.

“Really, what we want to encourage is for people to speak up about their experiences and most importantly why they choose not to drink and drive. The majority of Canadians don’t drink and drive; don’t use drugs and drive. And one of the most powerful motivators of behaviour change is people around you are influenced by choices our peers make, our family makes, our friends make. So, if we can really harness the majority of Canadians and make them feel comfortable speaking up and give them the facts to help them speak up and develop those targeted messages for those audiences that do use alcohol or drugs and then drive impaired. That’s kind of our objective, so we’re going to create a tool kit…we wanted to provide the guidance, the support, and some of the expertise that communities can use to really tackle impaired driving at a local level because at the end of the day all on road safety problems are local.”

To learn more visit https://tirf.ca/projects/idcc/

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