Allstate: Young and Newly Licensed Drivers Especially Vulnerable to “Drugging and Driving” During Holidays

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TORONTO, Dec. 6, 2010 – At a time when the incidence of impaired driving due to prescription and illegal drug use is on the rise, many young and newly licensed drivers will be spending their first holiday season on the road, vulnerable to the temptations of over-indulgence. Allstate Insurance Company of Canada has created the Home for the Holidays program to educate these young drivers in particular about the breadth of consequences that will ensue should they decide to drive while impaired.

“Your parents would rather get a late night call from a party than from the hospital or the police station,” said Saskia Matheson, official spokesperson for Allstate Canada. “We are asking young drivers to be responsible and call a taxi or stay at a friend’s house if you are not in a condition to drive.” There are several consequences that could arise as a result of impaired driving. They range from licence suspension and the stigma of criminal charges to killing someone or being killed.

In 2006, drug use while driving was estimated to be a factor in over 13 per cent of traffic fatalities in Canada. In fact, a study of fatal car crashes in Canada from 2000-2007 showed that more drivers who were 18 or under had drugs in their system as opposed to alcohol (30.4 per cent vs. 29.6 per cent).

“Incidents involving young drivers are especially troubling as the level of driving experience is low. Anything that impairs their ability to react to a dangerous situation only increases the risk of serious injury or death,” said Chief Armand La Barge of the York Regional Police, a police force north of Toronto.

More than 60 per cent of those who use illegal drugs are between 15-24 years old, according to the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse in Ottawa. “Although the misuse of drugs has long been considered a major social problem, the acute and devastating consequences of driving while under the influence of drugs has only recently come to the forefront as a public health and safety issue,” said Douglas J. Beirness, researcher at the CCSA.

The Non-Fatal Consequences

If a young driver tests positive for alcohol or drugs at a roadside stop, then they will automatically have their licence suspended for 90 days. They will then be charged under section 253a of the Criminal Code of Canada, and if convicted will be fined a minimum of $600 and have their licence suspended for a minimum of one year.

Many young drivers do not realize that an impaired driving conviction also has a serious impact on their ability to purchase car insurance. An impaired driving conviction makes someone ineligible to buy car insurance from a standard insurer. Only a very expensive high-risk insurer will take a driver who has had an impaired driving conviction in the last three years.

An impaired driving arrest or conviction can also severely damage a young driver’s reputation. With the communication options of today, a post on Facebook, a photo on Flickr and 140 damning characters in the Twitter stream means that a young person’s online reputation can be affected permanently. An impaired driving conviction could follow a young driver for the rest of his or her life, potentially damaging their chances at future employment. And they’ll have to explain their reckless behavior to their friends and family.

View a video which tells the tragic story of Terri Callaway, and describes some of the the many consequences of impaired driving. See it here at http://bit.ly/impaireddriving.

Extended Broadcast Quality broll footage is also available. It includes interviews, a simulated arrest, jail scene and drug and alcohol testing.

Broadcast quality download: http://bit.ly/impaireddrivingbroll.

As part of its commitment to keep Canada’s roads and communities safe, Allstate Canada is a proud sponsor of MADD Canada’s Project Red Ribbon campaign. Allstate Canada encourages members of every community to visit their local Allstate Agency to pick up a MADD Canada Red Ribbon in support of sober driving this holiday season. Drivers who display the red ribbon on their car, are making a personal commitment to drive sober this December and throughout the year. For more information about impaired driving, visit goodhandsadvice.ca.

About Allstate Insurance Company of Canada

Allstate Insurance Company of Canada is one of Canada’s leading producers and distributors of home and auto insurance products. “The Good Hands Network®” enables consumers to contact Allstate Canada through one of 93 community-based Agencies, directly online at www.allstate.ca and through the Customer Contact Centre at 1-800-Allstate. Allstate Canada is committed to making a positive difference in the communities in which it operates and has partnered with organizations such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD Canada), Crime Stoppers, United Way and Junior Achievement. In 2010, Allstate Canada, in partnership with the National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA), created the Allstate All-Canadians program, a mentorship program designed to guide the next generation of Canada’s hockey youth. Learn more at www.allstate.all-canadians.com.