The 2011 Holiday Check Stop Program

Are Police providing an accurate interpretation?  
When I read the headline “Peggers choosing safety and sobriety, police say“,  I thought to myself, that is good news.  The article went on to say, “Winnipeggers appear to be getting the message about drinking and driving, the Winnipeg Police Service said Monday, after releasing the numbers from its 2011 festive-season Check Stop campaign.”
Lets have a look at those numbers and see if there is a reason to rejoice.
Table 1  compares the 2010 Check Stop numbers to those of 2011:
Table 1

2010

2011

Vehicles stopped

2470

1900

Drivers Charged

98

57

Percentage of Drivers Charged

4%

3%

This is good, yes?   Well it is and it isn’t.   Of all the drivers stopped in 2010, 4% were charged.  That number went down by 1 % to 3% in 2011.    The real issue is, why is it that with substantial increases in resources in 2011, only 1,900 drivers were stopped in 2011?  I suggest it’s a matter of priorities.  Stopping 2,470 drivers as was done in 2010 would have required more resources – resources the Winnipeg Police Service was not prepared to dedicate to this cause.

With a charge rate of 3% of all drivers stopped, had the police stopped 2470 drivers in 2011 as they did in 2010 the number of drivers charged  would have been in the range of 74.  That’s 17 more impaired drivers off the road during a very short span of time.

To get a more complete picture of impaired driving trend one needs to examine the issue over a period of years, not just a period of weeks.

Table 2 depicts the data between 2000 and 2010 for impaired driving and refusal to provide a breath sample for Winnipeg.  The table highlights the following:

1.  The number of drivers who refuse to provide a sample of their breath has decreased dramatically since 2000;

2.  There was a significant decrease in the number of impaired drivers arrested from 2000 to 2006;

3.  The arrest numbers were essentially static in 2007 and 2008;

4.  In both 2009 and 2010 impaired driving arrest numbers rose 11%.

Table 2

Refusals

Impaired

Total

Change +/-  *

2000

178

1080

1258

2001

59

957

1016

-21%

2002

40

761

801

-21%

2003

37

729

766

-4%

2004

42

679

721

-6%

2005

11

565

576

-20%

2006

9

470

479

-17%

2007

9

476

485

+1%

2008

14

462

476

-2%

2009

1

526

527

+11%

2010**

8

577

585

+11%

Data obtained from 2000-2010 Winnipeg Police Annual Reports
* percentages are rounded to the nearest whole number
** The 2010 numbers shown are based on the 2010 Annual Report which has been withdrawn and will be reissued.
Before being able to say with any certainty that Winnipeggers are getting the message about drinking and driving, we need first to see a reversal of the upward trend in 2009 and 2010.  The limited data from the most recent Check Stop program does not warrant such a conclusion.
When the Winnipeg Police Service releases its 2011 Annual Report (hopefully before December 28th,  2012) we will have a better idea as to whether  Winnipeggers are indeed getting the message.  If the upward trend experienced in 2009 and 2010 continues, then obviously the claim by the Winnipeg Police Service is not supported by the evidence.
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One comment on “The 2011 Holiday Check Stop Program

  1. Unclebob says:

    You missed the issue that as you lower cost of checks ( by reducing the number of checks), probably the type of checks suffers as well . With smarter drivers and less difficult checks the conversion rate also falls.
    My personal view is that nothing has changed

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