COURTENAY, B.C.- Police across the region have launched this year’s CounterAttack program.

The campaign aims to stop impaired driving, with a focus around the holiday season. This year marks CounterAttack’s 40th anniversary.

According to BC RCMP, 65 people die, on average, to alcohol-related crashes each year in British Columbia.

Most of these crashes happen between 9 p.m. and 3 a.m.

ICBC Road Safety Coordinator Tom Webster said that although fatality numbers have gone down since CounterAttack was launched, “there’s still more work to be done.”

“If your holiday festivities involve alcohol, plan ahead for a safe ride home. Please arrange a designated driver, call a taxi, take transit or use Operation Red Nose where available.”

BC RCMP Constable Gary O’Brien noted that there is no excuse to continue to drink and drive.

“We know historically that there’s more people going to social functions where there’s alcohol served, and people making poor choices to get behind the wheel,” he said.

“The numbers will spike during the holiday season for that reason. We’re prepared and waiting for those people who decide, and the key word is that they ‘decide’ to drink and drive.”

On average, nine people are killed in impaired driving-related crashes on Vancouver Island each year.