Getting home safe is a shared responsibility. Take your turn being the designated driver – your friends and family will thank you. If no one can be a designated driver, there are still plenty of options for you to get home. AdobeStock

Getting home safe is a shared responsibility. Take your turn being the designated driver – your friends and family will thank you. If no one can be a designated driver, there are still plenty of options for you to get home. AdobeStock

Commentary

Plan ahead for a safe holiday season

By Blair Qualey

The holiday season is now upon us and that means family get-togethers, office parties and nights out with friends are in full swing. For some, this may include celebrations that involve drinking and cannabis – and the priority that should now be placed on planning ahead and ensuring a safe ride home, so that you don’t get behind the wheel.

Over the Christmas holidays and New Year’s, 540 people are injured in over 1,900 crashes in B.C., according to ICBC. That’s 23 crashes every hour. Even more sobering is the fact that three people die in crashes during this time frame every year.

When you drink and drive, you not only risk your life but those of others on the road. With so many options to get home safely, there is no excuse to drive while impaired.

Getting home safe is a shared responsibility. Take your turn being the designated driver – your friends and family will thank you. If no one can be a designated driver, there are still plenty of options for you to get home. Leave your car overnight and consider taking a taxi, transit, using a ride-hailing service, or calling a friend.

If you’re still not convinced that common sense should apply, consider that December is a time where CounterAttack is in full swing and B.C. has the toughest laws in the country when it comes to impaired driving – so, you not only put you and other drivers and pedestrians at risk, but could potentially ruin your own life.

Some of the penalties for impaired driving include:

  • Driving suspensions from 24 hours to 90 days
  • Vehicle impoundment
  • Fines, from $600 and up to $4,060
  • Jail time
  • Mandatory rehabilitation
  • Installation of ignition interlock in your vehicle

You may also have to pay a Driver Risk Premium, on top of your insurance. If you crash while driving impaired, you’re likely in breach of your insurance policy. That means you could be personally responsible for 100 per cent of the costs if you damage someone else’s property or injure them.

And a final caution to all drivers. Don’t allow yourself to be distracted. Put down your cellphone or any other device that may take your attention away from the road. When you are behind the wheel, focus on the road. There is no excuse to pick up your phone or to drive under the influence. Allow everyone to enjoy the holiday season – because the alternative is simply not worth it.

Blair Qualey is President and CEO of the New Car Dealers Association of BC. You can email him at bqualey@newcardealers.ca

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