Ottawa, Ontario – Almost five million Canadians admit to riding with a driver who had been drinking any amount of alcohol, according to a new poll by the Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF).

In response, 6.8 per cent of Canadians surveyed indicated that they had been a passenger in a motor vehicle in the last month driven by someone who had been drinking any amount of alcohol, while another 6.7 per cent indicated they had done so on two or more occasions. This corresponds to an estimated 2.4 and 2.3 million respectively, for a total of 4.7 million people who rode with a driver who had been drinking, TIRF said.

Among drivers who admitted to driving when they thought they were over the legal limit in the last 12 months, 42.2 per cent said they did so with a passenger in the vehicle.

“While these two measures are not directly comparable due to the different time frames, they do confirm that people willingly, albeit perhaps not knowingly, expose themselves to the risks involved with drinking and driving,” said TIRF research associate Kyla Marvoux. “These findings also speak to the importance of educating the public, specifically about the dangers of being a passenger in a vehicle driven by a driver who is over the legal limit.”

Generally, Canadians understand the dangers of drinking and driving, with another TIRF report finding that 86 per cent of young drivers aged 16 to 24 agreed or strongly agreed to not being able to drive safely after consuming alcohol, while 77 per cent of drivers 25 and older agreed to the same.

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