The onset of summer and sunny weather means more people will be out enjoying themselves.
And for those people who have a drink or two while celebrating, they should be aware that police and ICBC have launched their summer impaired driving CounterAttack campaign.
According to ICBC statistics, on average, three Burnaby residents are killed in impaired-related crashes each year and 36 are killed in the Lower Mainland each year.
Those numbers are too high for Gord Couling, ICBC's regional road safety man-ager for Burnaby.
"There's no doubt that it is socially irresponsible to drink and drive," said Couling. "We hold two CounterAttack campaigns each year and our summer campaign will have a focus on reminding people that they have to have a plan if they plan to go out and drink.
"One thing people can do is share the responsibility of being a designated driver. People should take turns to help friends and family get home safely. We want to emphasize how simple it is for people to make the smart choice."
Couling said other alternatives include calling a taxi, taking public transit, using a shuttle service or calling a sober friend for a ride.
As summer CounterAttack road checks ramp up in July, ICBC and the province is adding approximately $1 million to fund the campaign.
This funding will increase the number of police roadblocks and the likelihood of catching those who ignore warnings about drinking and driving, as well as those who drive while impaired by drugs.
"We know people want to enjoy themselves this summer - whether it's at a family barbecue, a winery or after a round of golf. We just want them to plan ahead if they're going to drink," Shirley Bond, the province's Minister of Justice and Attorney General, said in a press release. "For those who decide to drink and drive there is a good chance they'll get caught. Summer CounterAttack will be focused on both awareness and enforcement. This summer, please make the smart choice and plan for a safe ride home."
Couling agreed: "People who don't make the smart choices will pay the price. We will have enforced enhancement on the roads, in the air, on the beaches and in the water. Summer is the time when everybody is going on vacation, and it's the perfect time to remind people they need a plan if they going to have a drink."
Under an agreement with the provincial government, ICBC provides funding to support CounterAttack and other enhanced enforcement. This is on top of impaired driving enforcement conducted by policing agencies throughout the year across the province. In all, RCMP-policed jurisdictions will share $700,000 and municipal police departments, $300,000 for summer CounterAttack overtime.
According to ICBC statistics, in the first year of the program, the alcohol-related death toll on B.C. roads decreased by 40 per cent, compared to the average of the previous five years. During the same time period, road deaths linked to all forms of impairment, including drugs, fell 45 per cent.