Many Canadians choose alternate solutions to get home after a few drinks: Poll

OTTAWA, Dec. 21 /CNW/ - A new poll by the Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF) reveals that many Canadians do consider alternatives to driving after drinking. The public opinion poll conducted in September investigated Canadians' behaviours and actions when faced with the personal decision to drink and drive.

When asked if they ever decided to use alternative strategies to avoid driving when they had been drinking, 48% of respondents said they'd decided to ask someone else to drive and 30% answered they waited a few hours until they were sober. Only 14% answered they ever considered public transport while 19% considered taking a taxi.

In November 2010, TIRF, arrive alive DRIVE SOBER and Student Life Education Company launched Change the Conversation - www.changetheconversation.ca - a national education program to reduce impaired driving sponsored by the Brewers Association of Canada. At the heart of the program is the element of getting to drinking drivers through their friends and family who don't drive after drinking.

"What we're seeing are that alternative solutions seem to work for the majority who drink," explains Ward Vanlaar, lead researcher and Vice President Research at TIRF. "This information is useful in convincing drinking drivers to consider alternatives, especially during the holiday season, by demonstrating that driving after drinking is not the social norm."

"Armed with information from research like the Road Safety Monitor and by using distribution channels like Change the Conversation, we hope to reach the small cohort of drivers who continue to make the wrong decision by driving while impaired," says Ian Faris, President & CEO of the Brewers Association of Canada.

The survey also discovered that Canadians are quite vocal when it comes to expressing their concern over another person driving after drinking. A clear majority (87%) of those polled said that they have asked a person not to drive because they thought that person drank too much.

According to official statistics, in 2008, 790 Canadians were killed in a traffic crash involving a drinking driver. This represents a decrease since 2006 and is below the 2004 number of 815, the lowest count from 1995 through 2007. 

"It appears a decreasing trend in fatalities may be emerging toward the end of the first decade of the new millennium," says Vanlaar. "While the number of fatalities remains high, this decrease is good news going into the Year of Road Safety in Canada. It will have to be further monitored to determine if this trend can be sustained."

As with previous Road Safety Monitor polls, researchers asked respondents to look at their driving habits after drinking. About 5.5% of Canadians admitted to driving when they thought they were over the legal limit in the past 12 months. This confirms the considerable drop from 8.2% in 2007.

When asked if they had driven after consuming any amount of alcohol in the past 30 days in 2010, more than 24 per cent of Canadians polled admitted to doing so. This includes drinking and driving after consuming lower levels of alcohol and levels below the legal or administrative limits (where they exist).

"The message really is that people admitting to driving while they thought they were over the legal limit has dropped, therefore reducing the risk to themselves and others," explains Vanlaar. "This appears to be in line with the drop in alcohol-related fatalities across Canada. A clearer picture will appear with more monitoring of the trend."

For the third year in a row, the poll included a closer examination of regional drinking and driving attitudes and behaviours. Both the regional and national reports are available on TIRF's website, www.tirf.ca.

About the poll. These results are based on the RSM, an annual public opinion poll developed and conducted by TIRF. A total of 1,201 Canadians completed the poll in September and October of 2010. Results can be considered accurate within plus or minus 2.9%, 19 times out of 20. The majority of the questions were answered using a scale from one to six where six indicated high agreement, concern, or support and one indicated low agreement, concern or support. For the second time, some respondents were contacted by phone (401 in 2010; 600 in 2009) and some on-line (800 in 2010; 600 in 2009) as part of a gradual transition to an on-line survey.

About TIRF. Established in 1964, TIRF's mission is to reduce traffic-related deaths and injuries. As a national, independent, charitable road safety institute, TIRF designs, promotes, and implements effective programs and policies, based on sound research. TIRF is a registered charity and depends on grants, contracts, and donations to provide services for the public. Visit us online at www.tirf.ca.

SOURCE TRAFFIC INJURY RESEARCH FOUNDATION (TIRF)

For further information:

Sara Oglestone
Manager, Marketing and Communications
613-238-5235 (office)
1-877-238-5235 (toll-free)
sarao@tirf.ca
www.tirf.ca

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TRAFFIC INJURY RESEARCH FOUNDATION (TIRF)

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