June 1, 2007

MADD Canada calls on Ontario government to address unlicensed drivers

Toronto, Ontario – Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Canada is calling on the Ontario government to target the problem of suspended drivers. The group has responded to an independent survey, Fatal and Injury Crashes among Unlicensed Drivers in Ontario: 1996-2003, and is asking the government to act on recommendations in the survey, specifically to strengthen police authority and resources to apprehend suspended drivers; ensure police and courts make better use of driver licensing data; and introduce new vehicle impoundment and forfeiture programs.

The study, produced by Synectics Transportation Consultants Inc., found that approximately 2,000 fatal and injury crashes involving unlicensed drivers occur annually; one in 14 fatal crashes involves an unlicensed driver; injury and fatal crashes involving an unlicensed driver are more than twice as likely to have a fatal outcome, compared to provincial trends; and unlicensed drivers are one and a half times more likely to be at fault in the crash, compared to provincial trends.

Ontario data, not included in the study, indicates that approximately 2,500 to 3,000 fatal and injury crashes occur each year in which the driver flees the scene and successfully evades the police. Synectics estimates that, based on the data, the actual number of unlicensed drivers involved in fatal and injury crashes is approximately 18 per cent higher than shown in the report.

MADD Canada relates the findings to convicted impaired drivers and says that unlicensed drivers convicted of an alcohol-related Criminal Code offense represent the highest risk group. The group is almost three and a half times more likely to be involved in a fatal, rather than an injury crash, and more than 16 times likely to be cited as drinking or impaired by alcohol or drugs at the time of the crash, compared to provincial trends.

“This study confirms that those convicted impaired drivers, who continue to drive without their licenses, are the worst drivers on our roads,” says Andrew Murie, MADD Canada CEO. “We know that unlicensed drivers are over-involved in hit and run crashes compared to licensed drivers. So the government should target this group to reduce the number of motorists involved in crashes and killed and injured on Ontario roads. We’re all at risk and it would seem to make sense that we would take action against this known group of problem drivers.”

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