Cul­ture change: Low­est num­ber of im­paired driv­ing fa­tal­i­ties and in­juries on record

Prairie Post (East Edition) - - FARM NEWS -


A sig­nif­i­cant drop in the num­ber of im­paired driv­ing fa­tal­i­ties last year sug­gests most peo­ple in Saskatchew­an have de­cided it is sim­ply not okay to drive im­paired.

Pre­lim­i­nary num­bers in­di­cate 21* peo­ple lost their lives last year as a re­sult of im­paired driv­ing col­li­sions, com­pared to an an­nual av­er­age of 54 be­tween 2009-2018. In­juries re­sult­ing from im­paired driv­ing con­tin­ued to trend down­ward, with 332 re­ported in 2019, com­pared to the an­nual av­er­age of 595 over the pre­vi­ous decade. The 2019 im­paired driv­ing fa­tal­ity and the in­jury num­bers are the low­est SGI has on record.**

“Our gov­ern­ment has worked with vic­tims’ fam­i­lies, law en­force­ment, ad­vo­cacy groups and other stake­hold­ers on a num­ber of fronts to im­prove safety on our roads and fight Saskatchew­an’s im­paired driv­ing prob­lem,” Min­is­ter Re­spon­si­ble for SGI Joe Har­grave said. “The 2019 num­bers are fur­ther ev­i­dence that Saskatchew­an is mak­ing ma­jor progress on the province’s his­tor­i­cally high im­paired driv­ing rates. The re­sult is more lives saved and fewer fam­i­lies hav­ing to ex­pe­ri­ence the un­speak­able tragedy of see­ing some­one they love killed or se­verely in­jured due to im­paired driv­ing.”

Har­grave cred­ited the down­ward trend in im­paired driv­ing ca­su­al­ties to sev­eral fac­tors, giv­ing par­tic­u­lar credit to fam­i­lies of im­paired driv­ing vic­tims who share their sto­ries and their heart­break in the hopes of con­vinc­ing oth­ers to make bet­ter choices.

“I truly be­lieve the work those fam­i­lies do – whether it’s in an

SGI cam­paign, work­ing as MADD am­bas­sadors or sim­ply by shar­ing their ex­pe­ri­ence in con­ver­sa­tions – has saved lives,” Har­grave said. “It’s im­pos­si­ble to hear their sto­ries and not be touched by what they’ve gone through.”

“No one should ever have to ex­pe­ri­ence the pain of los­ing a loved one to some­thing as sense­less and un­nec­es­sary as im­paired driv­ing,” said Linda Van de Vorst, whose son, daugh­ter-in-law and two young grand­chil­dren were killed by an im­paired driver in 2016 (read the story about Jor­dan, Chanda, Kam­ryn and Migu­ire Van de Vorst here). “It’s en­cour­ag­ing to see progress on Saskatchew­an’s im­paired driv­ing rates. We have the power – and the re­spon­si­bil­ity – to keep im­paired driv­ing from de­stroy­ing any­one else’s life.”

Con­tin­ued from Page 15

“Through strong laws and sanc­tions, con­sis­tent en­force­ment and hard-hit­ting aware­ness ini­tia­tives, Saskatchew­an is mak­ing great strides in the fight to stop im­paired driv­ing, to save lives and to pre­vent in­juries,” said MADD Canada Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer An­drew Murie. “The progress be­ing made is truly in­spi­ra­tional, and we thank Min­is­ter Har­grave, the Gov­ern­ment of Saskatchew­an and law en­force­ment for their lead­er­ship.”

Har­grave high­lighted a num­ber of ef­forts and ini­tia­tives that have helped change im­paired driv­ing at­ti­tudes and be­hav­iours in Saskatchew­an:

• In­creased en­force­ment – An ad­di­tional 120 traf­fic en­force­ment po­si­tions funded by gov­ern­ment and SGI since 2014 via the Com­bined Traf­fic Ser­vices Saskatchew­an ini­tia­tive.

• Stronger leg­is­la­tion – New pro­vin­cial im­paired driv­ing laws put in place in 2014, 2017 and 2018, which brought in tougher con­se­quences for im­paired driv­ers in­clud­ing ve­hi­cle seizures, li­cence sus­pen­sions and steep fi­nan­cial penal­ties.

• More aware­ness – Pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion ef­forts by SGI, law en­force­ment, MADD, SADD and other or­ga­ni­za­tions that con­sis­tently re­in­force the im­por­tance of driv­ing sober, or get­ting a safe ride from a sober friend, a taxi, a bus, or a des­ig­nated driv­ing ser­vice.

• More op­tions – The in­tro­duc­tion of rideshar­ing, pro­vid­ing an ad­di­tional safe ride op­tion in some com­mu­ni­ties.

• Hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try fo­cus – Dili­gent ef­forts by own­ers, man­age­ment and staff of many li­censed es­tab­lish­ments through­out Saskatchew­an who help their pa­trons find a safe ride home.

“I want to thank every­one who has made the de­ci­sion to never drive im­paired, and every­one who has stopped some­one they cared about from get­ting be­hind the wheel in no con­di­tion to drive,” Har­grave said. “We need to not just sus­tain these num­bers; we need to im­prove upon them. We will con­tinue to work hard to change the cul­ture around im­paired driv­ing in Saskatchew­an.”

* Im­paired driv­ing fa­tal­ity data is con­sid­ered pre­lim­i­nary, based on in­for­ma­tion avail­able from po­lice forces in Saskatchew­an, and may be ad­justed based on ad­di­tional in­for­ma­tion from the Coroner’s of­fice or other sources

** SGI has what it con­sid­ers to be re­li­able data on im­paired driv­ing deaths dat­ing back to 1988. The pre­vi­ous low­est num­ber of im­paired driv­ing fa­tal­i­ties in a sin­gle year was 39 in 2017. The pre­vi­ous low­est num­ber of im­paired driv­ing in­juries was 360 in 2018.

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