CounterAttack checks hit the road

Over the past week, there was one 24-hour alcohol prohibition, five three-day and five 90-day Immediate Roadside Prohibitions issued

Tis the season for the RCMP CounterAttack program.

Vernon-North Okanagan RCMP got a bit of a head start on the Dec. 1 target date.

Over the past week, there was one 24-hour alcohol prohibition, five three-day and five 90-day Immediate Roadside Prohibitions (IRPs) issued, seven vehicles were impounded and two people were arrested for impaired driving.

“There was a bit of a road check on the weekend, slightly ahead of the Dec. 1 start date,” said Vernon-North Okanagan RCMP spokesperson Gord Molendyk. “At any given time now, you can start to see the CounterAttack road checks.”

The numbers from the past week, said Molendyk, are likely indicative of the numbers local Mounties will see during the CounterAttack campaign.

“There are individuals out there who figure they’ll take a chance and it costs them,” he said. “You just need to plan ahead. If driving is your livelihood and you’re caught drinking and driving, it could really affect you for some time.”

Molendyk added that the road checks are done for safety reasons.

“We want people to get through the Christmas season without injuries or death,” he said. “That’s why CounterAttack is here.”

This year marks the 35th anniversary of the start of the CounterAttack road checks in B.C.

In 1976, the year before the program started, more than 300 people were killed in impaired-related crashes every year in our province.

While attitudes towards drinking and driving have changed considerably since then, an average of 113 lives are still lost each year and impaired driving remains the second leading cause of car crash fatalities in B.C.

“The CounterAttack program is a remarkable initiative that has helped save countless lives, but we still have work to do,” said Mary Polak, minister of transportation and infrastructure. “The reality is 31 per cent of fatal crashes that occur every year in B.C. involve impaired driving. These are tragedies we can all help to prevent. When you celebrate this holiday season with your family and friends, make sure you plan ahead for a safe ride home.”

As Molendyk said, the Christmas season is here, and parties have already started.

If your festivities involve alcohol, arrange for a designated driver or use other safe options to get home safely — call a taxi, take transit or call a sober friend. Regional statistics:

ICBC reports that, on average, 36 people are killed each year in the Southern Interior in impaired-related crashes.

Annual averages are from 2007-2011 using police-reported data.

Impaired-driving related data includes alcohol, illegal drugs and medicine.