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Although statistics are increasingly indicating distracted drivers are now the leading cause of motor vehicle accidents in Ontario, that doesn't mean impaired driving has disappeared. Though numbers have come down over time, impaired drivers still pose a significant threat to other motorists. Recently, longer sentences have begun to be imposed on those found guilty, but some experts aren't so sure that's enough to prevent a drunk driver from getting behind the wheel.

An Ontario judge recently cited a couple of examples of the increasingly harsh sentences being handed down to drunk drivers. One convicted man was given 10 years in jail for killing four people in a collision, and another man was sentenced to six years in prison for killing a city worker with his car while drunk. These rulings echo a growing trend across most of Canada.

Experts from Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF) do not believe punishments like these will do anything to stem the tide, however. For many years drunk driving accidents have accounted for around one-third of all traffic fatalities in Canada. Alarmingly, in 2016, 22 percent of people polled by the TIRF admitted to having driven within two hours of drinking alcohol. That number was up 5 percent from the previous year. Both groups believe that real change can only be made through preventative measures, such as graduated licensing and zero tolerance for blood alcohol levels in youth drivers, both of which have proved demonstrably successful.

For now, it seems, impaired driving accidents will continue to be a problem on the streets of Ontario. And no matter how long a convicted drunk driver goes to jail, it cannot compensate a victim for injuries inflicted or a family for the loss of a loved one. After an accident with an impaired driver, it may be a good idea to consult with a personal injury attorney. A lawyer's experience handling similar situations may help secure an appropriate amount of compensation.

Source: CTV News, "Experts question whether tougher sentences deter drunk driving", Michelle McQuigge, Jan. 15, 2017

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