Last weekend broke a record. Not the usual heat record for a summer weekend, but for the highest number of impaired driver incidents this year.
From June 24 to June 27 Waterloo Regional Police investigated and responded to 16 occurrences of impaired driving.
“Our experience with impaired driving incidents in Waterloo Region demonstrates that too many motorists are still choosing to make unwise decisions; putting themselves and others at risk,” said chief Matt Torigian in a statement released Tuesday.
Police spokesman Olaf Heinzel said it was difficult to know if impaired driving has gone up or if the police have been more efficient reporting incidents.
“Sadly we have to consider the possibility that there are impaired drivers out there who are not getting caught,” he said. “(The police) along with our partner agencies and road safety continually try to remind people through an educational process of the risks associated with impaired driving but also the legal implications for the driver who is caught.”
He went on to say that unfortunately not all motorists are listening to the message and in some cases they might be ignoring the message and choosing to make their own decisions about their actions.
Police were alerted to nine of the incidents as a result of calls from the community, six were the result of proactive vehicle stops and one was identified through the R.I.D.E. program.
“What we are finding and we believe is happening now is that with the help of other agencies who are encouraging the public to become actively involved in reporting suspected
impaired drivers maybe more people are starting to do that and are assisting our efforts.”
Police want the public to realize they are making a difference.
“Our hope is that as we head into a long weekend that people will continue to be vigilant and help with road safety,” said Heinzel. “We want them to realize that we do acknowledge the efforts that some of the people this past weekend made and who took the time and care enough to call the police and let them know.”
In addition to stationary and mobile R.I.D.E programs, police patrol officers are working proactively in neighbourhoods and continue to look for and stop drivers for impaired driving offences.
“A certain percentage of drivers are continuing to drive after drinking and that is just not acceptable to our community, and it’s not acceptable to the police and we want to drive those numbers down in terms of the number of actual people out there driving impaired,” said Heinzel.
Police encourage all motorists to make safety their top priority and only drive when sober.
“Plan ahead if you plan to drink and make arrangements for a designated driver, take public transportation or stay over. It’s a familiar message, but we need to reinforce the message and hope the public will be encouraged to work with police to improve road safety.”
Anyone who suspects an impaired driver is encouraged to call 911 or the police non-emergency number at (519) 653-7700.