(CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY)
Mr. Speaker I rise in the house today to talk about an important issue facing all Ontarians: drunk driving.
The good news is that the number of fatal drinking and driving crashes has fallen by 35 per cent in the last ten years.
However, drinking and driving is still a factor in about one quarter of all fatal collisions in Ontario.
Mr. Speaker, every year about 16,000 people are convicted of drinking and driving in Ontario - that's a rate of about two an hour.
In 2003, more than 200 people died in drunk driving collisions. More than 500 others were seriously hurt.
In nine out of 10 drinking and driving deaths, the drinking driver was a man.
Most impaired drivers involved in collisions are between 19 and 24 years old.
And, summertime is the deadliest for drinking and driving collisions. Nearly twice as many people are killed in the summer months as in the winter.
We need to get the message out now.
Earlier today I helped officially launch the "Arrive Alive DRIVE SOBER" campaign. It is held each year by one of our biggest safety partners on this issue - the Ontario Community Council on Impaired Driving, or OCCID.
Our government is also working with police and a number of other road safety groups like MADD and Ontario Students Against Impaired Driving.
I have been working hard, along with our safety partners to raise public awareness on this issue. I strongly support and take part in the Holiday RIDE program, MADD's Red Ribbon campaign, conferences on impaired driving, and the "Arrive Alive DRIVE SOBER" campaign.
Our government also launched the iDRIVE campaign last year. It includes a video by and for young people to raise awareness about dangerous driving - including impaired driving. 2,200 copies have been distributed to schools, community groups, public health offices and police. I'm pleased to report another 2,200 copies have been ordered this year.
Mr. Speaker, Ontario has the safest roads in North America. But road safety doesn't just happen. It takes an ongoing commitment -- year after year.
The theme of this year's OCCID campaign is "Choose Your Ride." We want to convince people to make responsible choices this summer.
When you "choose your ride," do you want to end up in the back of a police cruiser? An ambulance? A hearse?
This is what can happen when people choose to drink and drive.
You could choose a taxi, or a designated driver.
Ontario has some of the toughest anti-drinking and driving laws in the country.
A drunk driving conviction costs about $20,000. But it could also cost your job, your friends, your family, or your life.
Mr. Speaker, I'm sure all members will want to join me in urging everyone to make responsible choices this summer.
Choose not to drink and drive.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
See also: Road Safety Topics - Impaired Driving