Kelowna drunk driving rates highest in country

There were more police-reported impaired driving incidents in Kelowna in 2011 than any other city in the country.

Kelowna had the highest rate of police-reported drunk driving incidents in 2011. Over the past decade Kelowna's impaired driving rate has increased by 76 per cent.

There were more police-reported impaired driving incidents in Kelowna in 2011 than any other city in the country.

Kelowna experienced 1,063 incidents in 2011; drunk driving rates have increased 76 per cent in the city over the last 10 years.

According to the Statistics Canada report, four of the last five years have shown an increase in impaired driving rates throughout the country.

Police reported 90,277 drunk driving incidents in Canada in 2011, which was 3,000 more than in 2010.

B.C. and Newfoundland and Labrador experienced the highest increases among provinces over the past decade.

Kelowna RCMP Const. Kris Clark admitted drunk driving occurs at an “alarming rate” in Kelowna; however, he noted statistics can be deceiving.

“There are a number of different ways we can look at those numbers, but I think, despite what the numbers show, we’re still half of what the rates used to be 25 years ago,” said Clark.

He added Kelowna Mounties take road safety seriously.

“We have four detachment priorities and road safety happens to be one of them. We continue to enforce impaired driving laws as well as distracted driving laws—anything that entails dangerous driving behaviours.”

Last month Kelowna RCMP announced it would participate in Mothers Against Drunk Driving Canada’s Campaign 911. Marked police vehicles now have bumper stickers that read: Report Impaired Drivers, Call 911.

Clark said Kelowna has sufficient resources to deal with the current rate of impaired drivers; however, additional resources could be beneficial.

“Having more would simply mean that we would be targeting more of the dangerous driving behaviour and we’d have time to be proactive and target traffic enforcement more.”

He added numbers tend to increase throughout the summer because some tourists treat Kelowna like a resort town and have little regard for drinking and driving laws.

The Statistics Canada report also indicated the number of impaired female drivers has increased over the past 25 years. In 1986, one in every 13 impaired drivers was female; in 2011 that rate increased to one in six.

Despite the increase in drunk driving, the rate of impaired driving causing death dropped by 29 per cent in 2011, reaching its lowest point in over 25 years.

Impaired driving is the leading cause of criminal death in Canada.