EDITORIAL: Some drivers never learn

Stats show Southern Interior still has highest number of impaired-related crashes in B.C.

Winter after winter, the RCMP CounterAttack road check program returns to B.C. roads.

It’s a holiday tradition we would be happy to never see again but far too many residents of the South Okanagan and Southern Interior still haven’t got the message.

There was a time when impaired driving was considered acceptable behaviour. Thankfully, we’ve come a long way from that. But after all those years of messages, roadblocks, and increasing penalties, some drivers still operate a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs, believing nothing can happen to them or that they won’t get caught.

B.C.’s CounterAttack program is in its 37th year and the province’s tougher roadside penalties on drinking and driving are responsible for a drop in alcohol-related crashes though, on average, 86 people still die every year in crashes involving impaired driving.

Drinking and driving carries consequences. Whether it’s a small fender-bender, an arrest and driving suspension or a serious crash that claims your life or that of an innocent person — it’s only a matter of time before someone pays the price.

The odds are getting better that if you drink and drive, you will get caught. But there are still too many risking their lives and those of others on B.C. roads.

Statistics released by ICBC show that, between 2009 and 2013, there were an average of 29 impaired-related crashes in the Southern Interior. That’s the most of B.C.’s four regions (23 in Lower Mainland, 22 in North Central and 13 on Vancouver Island). Though the numbers are trending down, driving under the influence still accounts for 23 per cent of all fatal crashes.

Police will again be out in force this season, driving home the message that we all need to take to heart: Don’t drink and drive. Plan ahead, use alternate transportation or use a designated driver.