A new police unit in Southwest Nova Scotia is proving effective in the fight against impaired driving. The Integrated Impaired Driving Enforcement Unit is a joint effort of the RCMP, local police forces and the provincial government. Since its launch in December, the unit has stopped more than 21,300 vehicles at 114 checkpoints. Officers administered 193 roadside alcohol screening tests, laid 38 impaired driving charges and ordered 45 immediate 24-hour licence suspensions. “With our crime-prevention strategy, we’re working with law enforcement and other partners to help keep Nova Scotians safe on the road and in their communities,” said Justice Minister Cecil Clarke. “This partnership in Southwest Nova Scotia is an excellent joint use of resources and it’s producing concrete results.” Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal Minister Murray Scott said he is encouraged by the statistics. “Alcohol was the leading contributing factor to fatal collisions in our province last year,” said Mr. Scott. “By taking impaired and unsafe drivers off our roads, we are preventing injuries and saving lives.” The unit is a one-year pilot project funded by the departments of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal, Justice, Health Promotion and Protection, and Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. The unit is based at the Chester RCMP detachment. Its officers patrol roads in Lunenburg, Queens, Shelburne, Yarmouth, Digby, Annapolis and Kings counties. The RCMP is providing vehicles, office facilities and four traffic services officers. Bridgewater and Kentville police officers are also part of the six-member unit. Mark Mander, Kentville Police Service chief, said motorists should be aware that the unit is patrolling day and night to keep roads and communities safe. “We are sending a clear message to motorists that we are taking a zero-tolerance approach to impaired driving,” said Chief Mander. The unit is also effectively enforcing other motor vehicle infractions. Officers have charged 82 motorists for operating a motor vehicle without a licence, 147 for speeding and 66 for failing to wear seatbelts. Tickets for 329 other motor vehicle offences were also issued by the unit since December. Mr. Scott said the province will evaluate the pilot project before the end of the year to determine its impact on incidents of impaired driving and consider expansion throughout Nova Scotia. The project is one of several provincial initiatives to improve road safety, including a ban on hand-held cellphones, doubling fines for speeding in school and construction zones, legislation to combat street racing and new graduated driver-licensing rules. The project also supports government’s priority to keep communities safe.