Drunk Driving Amongst Teenagers in Canada

Driving is fun, but drinking and driving is not! Hundreds of people are killed and thousands are injured every year in an accident with a drunk driver. This issue doesn’t only affect the victim itself, but the families, loved ones and communities as well. Drunk driving amongst teens is a serious issue, and is growing by the minute. Drunk driving is somebody’s choice or somebody’s authorization to get behind the wheel when they are clearly impaired. The scars from a drunk driving accident take an emotional and physical toll on the victim, the families, their loved ones, and their communities.

45% of road accidents amongst teenagers are results of impaired driving(1). If the legal age to drive in Canada is 19(2), and the legal drinking age in Canada is 19(3), why do they mix? Teens have the highest death rate, more 19 year olds die or are injured than any other age group. Vehicle crashes is the leading death cause amongst 15-25 year olds, 45% of those accidents are due to alcohol. Males account for 87% of the fatally injured drunk drivers. Teenage drunk drivers are more likely to be killed or injured during the summertime and weekends, a smaller amount of accidents happen in the wintertime.

By the time a driver reaches a blood acohol level of . 10%, they are 51 times more likely to get into an acciddnt than a non-drinking driver(4). Teenage drunk driving in Canada is a social justice issue, because someone is making the choice to get behind the wheel while intoxicated fully knowing the risks, not only that but they are breaking the law and endangering the lives of others. According to A Victim’s Guide to the Canadian Criminal Justice System there is no minimum penalty for a drunk driver that has caused bodily harm or a death(5), many drunk drivers seek “Justice with compassion” to flee the hefty fines and even imprisionment.

I’m not saying they should remove justice with compassion, but they have to call things what they are when it comes to taking an innocent life. It’s injust that some drivers get let off without a scratch when the real victim is being lowered into their tomb or is scarred for life. Causing a death –being an accident or not- is still a felony and should be trialed as one, instead of just an accident. When loved ones are lost through accidents related to alcohol, it is extremely difficult for two reasons: it could have been avoided and that the victims had no choice.

There is no way of knowing whether the victims of alcohol-related accidents are guilty or not guilty; young or old, man or woman. Victims of impaired driving are innocent. Families and friends are struggling to cope with the loss. The fact that the person behind the wheel may have not actually been a criminal, but an ordinary person, only adds to the tragedy. Drinking and driving is a choice a person makes, or is authorized to do so by the people around them. Alcohol acts as a weapon when used in conjunction with the wheel.

There are many options for any victim of a drunk driving accident and their families, MADD Canada offers their services in a form of victim support line and community leaders that can direct you to helpful hands. There are many ways to bring awareness to this issue, there are poster, commercials, ads, you name it. However, awareness that teens are drinking and ultimately getting behind the wheel should be exposed, the public should know what’s really going on and how they can educate themselves on this issue.

TAC released a commercial on decembre 10th 1989 “A five minute retrospective of the road safety campaigns produced by the TAC over the last 20 years has been compiled. The montage features iconic scenes and images from commercials that have helped change the way we drive, all edited to the moving song Everybody Hurts by REM. This campaign is a chance to revisit some of the images that have been engraved on our memories, remember the many thousands of people who have been affected by road trauma and remind us all that for everyones sake; please, drive safely.

”(6). “On July 18, 2004, Steve, age 29, and Jenny, age 26, were driving home from a friend’s wedding reception. Married for less than two years, their lives were filled with many hopes, dreams and plans…Steve was the designated driver. Steve and Jenny always took turns… because they are responsible… because they care about road safety and the well-being of other people. They turned a corner and suddenly, the headlights of an impaired driver’s car swerved into their lane. What happened next was a violent, painful and terrifying crime.

After the crash, Jenny somehow managed to kick open her door, but then collapsed, calling out for her husband. Steve had glass in his eyes and couldn’t see. He was trapped and confused, but kept saying his wife’s name. It is a miracle that Steve and Jenny Kulikowsky survived that 2004 car crash. One man’s decision to drive while impaired has changed their lives forever. The past four years have been long and hard for this young couple, and each painful step forward brings no promise that the hopes, dreams and plans they once had will ever be within reach. Steve needed four blood transfusions during his first week in the hospital.

He has had seven surgeries (and counting), gets painful shots in his neck every week, and spends most of his days going to and from rehab and doctor appointments. Steve suffers from severe tremors and intense pain on his left side, including the left hand that used to earn him a living. He still has problems walking and even the easiest activities can be exhausting. ”(7). On November 6th 2010, 5 teenagers were in a fatal roll-over, police say that alcohol was a factor in this accident. The vehicle with four boys and a young girl slipped and rolled over a dozen times.

One of the boys was ejected from the vehicle and pronounced dead at the scene. The other four were taken to hospital with unknown injuries(8). That boy was my cousin. Finally, driving is not a right, it is a privilege. Impaired driving is dangerous, and incredibly irresponsible. We’re losing young souls due to the decision of other people getting behind the wheel while intoxicated. How many more lives do we have to lose before this issue is taken more seriously amongst teenagers. Victims of drunk driving accidents are still serving a life sentence of physical, emotional and financial turmoil for a crime they did not commit (7).

Be the change you want to see, and educate those around you on this social justice issue. “Anyone can fall victim to impaired driving. The outcome of this crime is the destruction of many individual’s lives as there is never only one victim. Families, friends, loved ones and entire communities are greatly impacted. Individuals need to protect themselves by being aware of the dangers and educating others around them. ” – Shania Kahn, MADD Metro Vancouver Chapter Work Cited (1) Tiller, Joel. “Teen Drinking and Driving: A Deadly Rite of Passage. ” AboutKidsHealth. ca. Copyright © 2004-2012 AboutKidsHealth, 7 Aug. 2011. Web.

19 Feb. 2013. http://www. aboutkidshealth. ca/En/News/NewsAndFeatures/Pages/Teen-Drinking-and-Driving-A-Deadly-Rite-of-Passage. aspx (2) “About the Graduated Licensing Program (GLP) in B. C. ” ICBC. N. p. , n. d. Web. 20 Feb. 2013. <http://www. icbc. com/driver-licensing/getting-licensed/graduated-licensing>. (3) “Legal Drinking Age for Alcohol in Canada. ” Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse. Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse © 2013 All Rights Reserved, 4 June 2012. Web. 20 Feb. 2013. <http://www. ccsa. ca/eng/topics/legislation/LegalDrinkingAge/Pages/default. aspx>. (4) “Overview – Youth and Impaired Driving. ” MADD Canada.

Copyright © MADD Canada | Charity Registration #13907 2060 RR0001, n. d. Web. 10 Feb. 2013. <http://www. madd. ca/madd2/en/impaired_driving/impaired_driving_youth. html>. (5) “Federal Penalties for the Impaired Driving and Failing Offences Involving Bodily Harm or Death. ” MADD Canada. A Victim’s Guide to the Canadian Criminal Justice System, MADD Canada, June 2009, June 2009. Web. <http://www. madd. ca/media/docs/Penalties%20for%20the%20Impaired%20Driving%20and%20Failing%20Offences%20Involving%20Bodily%20Harm%20or%20Death. pdf>. (6) http://www. youtube. com/watch? v=Z2mf8DtWWd8 (7) “Smashed: A Sober Look at Drinking and Driving.

” GOC – Transport Canada. N. p. , 11 May 2012. Web. 03 Mar. 2013. <http://www. tc. gc. ca/eng/roadsafety/safedrivers-impaireddriving-smashed-index-580. htm>. (8) Cosgrove, Colleen. “Fatal Rollover Leaves School in Mourning. ” Winnipeg Free Press. Winnipeg Free Press, 9 Nov. 2010. Web. 15 Feb. 2013. http://www. winnipegfreepress. com/local/fatal-rollover-leaves-school-in-mourning-106943518. html (9) ALCOHOL AS A SOCIAL PROBLEM. Chicago: Gateway Editions, 1984. Berns, Walter. (10) EFFECTS OF ALCOHOL AND DRIVING. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1991. Vingilis, Charles. (11) “Stopping Impaired Driving – Impaired Driving Laws – Federal.

” MADD Canada. Copyright © MADD Canada | Charity Registration #13907 2060 RR0001, n. d. Web. 03 Mar. 2013. <http://www. madd. ca/madd2/en/impaired_driving/stopping_impaired_laws_federal. html>. (12) Taylor, Lesley C. “Teen Drinking and Driving Decline in U. S. , but Not in Canada. “TheSpec. com. Toronto Star, 4 Oct. 2012. Web. 25 Feb. 2013. <http://www. thespec. com/news/world/article/811935–teen-drinking-and-driving-decline-in-u-s-but-not-in-canada>. (13) Dworjan, Tania. “Statistics of Teenage Drunk Driving. ” LoveToKnow Teens. © 2006-2013 LoveToKnow Corp. , n. d. Web. 03 Mar. 2013. <http://teens.

lovetoknow. com/Statistics_of_Teenage_Drunk_Driving>. Q&A with Shania Kahn, MADD Metro Vancouver Chapter [email protected] com 1. What made you decide to work with this organisation? -I was involved in an alcohol related crash. 2. Why do you think people should care about this issue? -Anyone can fall victim to impaired driving. The outcome of this crime is the destruction of many individual’s lives as there is never only one victim. Families, friends, loved ones and entire communities are greatly impacted. Individuals need to protect themselves by being aware of the dangers and educating others around them.

3. How would you bring awareness about this subject to the youth of our city? -There are High School multimedia presentations set up to educate individuals and prevent them from driving impaired or getting into the car with someone that is impaired. 4. Do you think Teenage drunk drivers should be trialed as adults? -MADD supports the sanctions that are implemented by the criminal justice system. 5. Have you known of a story (personal or not) about this issue that has changed your life? -There are many victims of impaired driving changing lives daily. See statistics on the MADD website. 6.

Do you think Teenage drunk drivers should be punished more severely if they killed their passenger(s)? – MADD supports the sanctions that are implemented by the criminal justice system 7. What kind of support is out there for the victim and its family? -MADD provides Victim Services support along with other victims organizations. See MADD website for details. 8. Have you seen a growth in the amount of Teenage drunk driving accidents in the past 5 years? -See statistics on the MADD website. 9. What are some ideas you would have to bring awareness to the fact that Teenagers *are* drinking and later getting behind the wheel? -Education.