April 4, 2007

CAA and TIRF release study on short-term license suspensions in Saskatchewan

Ottawa, Ontario – The Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) and the Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF) have released a report on the impact of short-term license suspensions (STS) at the roadside for drinking drivers.

STS is a provincial sanction that has been used in Canada for the last 20 years as a means of immediately removing drivers with a low blood alcohol content (BAC) from the road for a period of 12 to 24 hours. The study assessed the effectiveness of STS in Saskatchewan for BAC levels between 0.04 and 0.08 per cent.

“The research shows that driver fatalities with BACs at 0.08 per cent or less decreased in the years following the introduction of the new Saskatchewan law,” says Deanna Singhal, co-author of the report. “However, the numbers are very small, making it difficult to determine whether or not the changes were caused by the law. We definitely need more research on this topic to determine if short-term suspensions at the roadside have a statistically significant impact on drinking and driving behaviours.”

The study found that police issue STS about as often as they lay Criminal Code charges, thereby removing twice as many drinking drivers from the road than would occur if only Criminal Code charges were available. The findings also demonstrate that more information is required to determine the long-term impact of STS in Canadian provinces.

The study is available online at CAA.ca and at TrafficInjuryResearch.com.

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