Growing concern as impaired driving rates skyrocket in Sarnia
SARNIA, Ont. -- Police in Sarnia say a disturbing trend is beginning to emerge. They’ve seen impaired driving rates go through the roof this year.
And it’s not just impairment by alcohol. Legalized cannabis, as well as opioids, are also causing major concern.
From January to August of this year Sarnia police laid 41 impaired driving charges. That compares with 28 for the same period in 2018, and represents an increase of 46 per cent.
Furthermore, says Constable Gio Sottosanti, the figure for the first eight months of the year is higher than the figure for most previous years including all 12 months.
He says they’re growing increasingly concerned.
“That car you're driving is a weapon. So there's a thousand pounds of metal flying down the road. I've seen telephone poles smashed out. I've seen cars totaled, crumpled up. And the lives and the people affected by it, it's incredible. And you can't take it back.”
Sottosanti adds that what the numbers don’t show is the drivers impaired by both alcohol and drugs.
That’s because once they’ve tested for alcohol and established impairment, they do not also test for impairment from cannabis or other drugs, as that would be too much of a strain on the system.
This is all no surprise to Mike Gorgey, the manager of Health Promotions at the Lambton Health Unit.
“Whenever you increase the availability of a substance the research indicates you also increase its consumption. So with cannabis in particular, with it being legalized, and now with cannabis edibles coming into play I think that adds a new dimension to the problem of impairment.”
The health unit is seeking public input for an alcohol and drug strategy currently being developed.