The Drunk-Driving Capital of Canada


This morning as I started my daily ritual of news-reading, I was met with a shameful headline: “St. John’s Tied as Drunk-Driving Capital of Canada”. I can’t say that I’m shocked, as it seems like most mornings begin with me reading accounts of impaired drivers being pulled off the roads. They’re being pulled over every hour of the day and night, male and female, and from all age groups. It’s quite disturbing to think that at any given time we’re sharing the roads with many people who are not in a fit state to be driving.

The sociologist within me looks for the reasons why we have been crowned with this dubious distinction. We do love our booze here, and statistics show that Newfoundlanders buy more alcohol per capita than people anywhere else in the country. It’s a cultural thing, no doubt brought over by our rum-swilling ancestors from Ireland and England.


Brewed only here. Photo credit:


The famous (infamous?) Screech rum. Photo credit:

Coupled with our innate taste for booze is the cavalier attitude towards safety that permeates Newfoundland culture. Here’s another statistic: Newfoundland has the highest rate of workplace fatalities in Canada. Taking the proper safety precautions is seen as time-consuming and unnecessary.

“Life jacket? Don’t be so foolish. I’m at this all my life.”

“I’m not going arsing with the fall arrest gear, I can be up and down the scaffold with the job done in the time it takes to put that on.”

“I don’t need to put on my seatbelt, I’m just going down the road.”

“I’m best kind to drive, I’m after having a bite to eat.”

Mothers Against Drunk Driving can put out all the public service announcements it wants, Newfoundlanders’ fundamental attitude towards safety needs to change before we see results.

Whenever I hear about yet another impaired driver being caught, I think back to that beautiful morning in August when 27-year-old motorcyclist Nick Coates was hit and killed by an (allegedly) impaired driver. That tragedy hit home for all of us in the motorcycle community, as it could have been any one of us riding down Kenmount Road that day. To their great credit, Nick’s friends stepped up and organized a memorial car & bike show to raise funds for MADD. It’s disappointing that the publicity didn’t raise more awareness that it’s not acceptable to drink and drive.

Motorists fail to see motorcyclists when they’re sober. The scary fact is that many people around us apparently are NOT sober. Keep that in mind when you’re riding.

Please don’t drink and drive. Even if you’re not “drunk” you can still have enough alcohol in your system to fail the breathalyzer, effectively throwing a wrench into your entire life. It’s not worth it.


Posted on December 30, 2013, in Behind the Visor and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Driving under the influence of alcohol is not socially acceptable, but the act is often tolerated. That’s the problem and that’s wrong.
    Impaired driving is a serious crime punishable under multiple offenses in the Criminal Code of Canada.
    When will people learn that they don’t have the right to risk the life of someone else?

  2. …and here I was thinking that Australia had a drinking problem. It seems that every weekend we hear stories of people being caught up in alcohol fueled violence, or done for DUI (Driving Under the Influence).

    I don’t think things will change until authorities end their love affair with the tax revenue that alcohol generates.

    Great post

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