Safety campaigns won’t work without tougher penalties and enforcement, says Andrew Murie of MADD Canada

CBC News
Nov 12, 2018

The CEO of MADD Canada is calling for tougher legislation and increased enforcement to prevent impaired driving deaths on ATVs and snowmobiles.

Only then, said Andrew Murie, will efforts to educate riders on safe driving make a difference.

“Education in itself has very limited success,” he said. “That’s been proven globally.”

178 deaths since 2012

A recent CBC News investigation counted 178 deaths on ATVs and snowmobiles since 2012 in Atlantic Canada.

The investigation also found 44 per cent of deaths across the region involved drug or alcohol impairment —​ statistics Murie described as “shocking.”

“They are appalling compared to the success that we’ve had on the roadways,” he said.

In order to discourage impaired operation of ATVs and snowmobiles, Murie said he believes provinces have to toughen penalties, increase enforcement and publicize those efforts.

“If a province was to do this, within a year you would see a dramatic decrease in fatalities and injuries. Guaranteed,” he said.

Murie said when B.C. started seizing the cars of impaired drivers years ago, there was an immediate effect.

“We know in British Columbia, when they started impounding vehicles in 2010, just for three days, they had a 50 per cent drop in alcohol-related fatalities. Almost overnight it stopped,” he said.

Consequences are key

But Murie said police can only enforce stricter rules with adequate funding and resources.

“The police really don’t want to attend these fatalities where somebody has been killed or seriously injured, they want to get out and prevent it.”

Murie said no Canadian provinces have legislation that allows for the impoundment of snowmobiles and ATVs. But he’s certain the right consequences would lead to a cultural change for riders on the trails.

“The next morning they can’t go anywhere,” he said. “They can’t participate in their activity. They have to pay the high rate to get [their machine] back. They are charged with impaired driving. They have a criminal record.

“All those things that have worked with cars, they’ll absolutely work with other vehicles as well.”