Impaired driving in Canada appears to be shifting into high gear, and Abbotsford and Mission are following right behind, according to a Statistics Canada report released Thursday.
The 2011 numbers show impaired driving rates are up for the fourth time in five years, and the national rate was two per cent higher than in 2010.
Locally, the Abbotsford-Mission region ranked fourth of the Top 10 urban areas with the highest drunk driving rates in the country, and the rate in 2011 has more than doubled since 2001.
Abbotsford Police Const. Ian MacDonald said impaired driving has remained a stubborn problem and drivers don't seem to be getting the message despite tougher laws and widespread public messaging.
"The statistics don't show a lot of good news," said MacDonald.
"The only silver lining is we're deploying resources and catching people committing acts of impaired driving.
"But the bad news is we're not having too much difficulty in finding those people."
There is no shortage of examples of impaired driving incidents in Abbotsford.
Just prior to Christmas, four young women were lucky to escape with their lives as a suspected drunk driver rammed into the back of their vehicle while it was stopped at a police CounterAttack roadblock.
Earlier in the year, young Abbotsford father Brian Patchett, died after the car he was a passenger in crashed on Vye Road and Sumas Way on Sept. 23.
Police believed that both alcohol and speed were factors in the crash.
The community of Abbotsford has responded tremendously to other APD public safety campaigns, particularly against gang violence, said MacDonald.
However, the message of the dangers of drunk driving has not hit home, he said.
As a result, impaired driving and other aspects of road safety such as distracted driving and pedestrian safety are a top priority for the APD in 2013, said MacDonald.
Like previous public safety campaigns, the APD will undertake a two-pronged approach, employing increased enforcement and an education and prevention campaign.
Although the APD will work within schools, the prevention campaign will reach out to the public at large, as those that drive drunk cover all age ranges, said MacDonald.
However, young adults aged 20 to 24 had the highest impaired driving rates in 2011, and rates declined with age, according to the Statistics Canada report.
Other B.C. cities also ranked high on the Top 10 list for impaired driving rates.
Kelowna topped the list while Victoria and Vancouver were ranked sixth and ninth, respectively.
Kelowna tallied 1,063 impaired driving incidents in 2011 for a rate of 583 cases per 100,000 people.
Abbotsford had 652 incidents in 2011, for an impaired driving rate of 367 per 100,000 people.
The provincial rate for impaired driving was 412 while the national rate was 262.
-with files from Glenda Luymes, The Province