By: Luke Jones, Published on January 2, 2018 08:46 AM, Last Update on January 2, 2018 05:47 AM
Saskatchewan is in an impaired driving crisis, but hopes it can tackle the issue in the future. Early reports suggest the province has some of the highest drunk driving rates in the country, and reforms to how impaired driving is handled are needed.
Official data has not yet been published, but Statistics Canada says preliminary results show Saskatchewan has the highest impaired driving rates in 2017.
“These numbers are just too high,” Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI) vice-president of traffic safety and driver services Kwei Quaye told The Canadian Press in response. “Impaired driving, in our opinion, is a totally preventable type of behaviour.”
“The consequences of this in terms of impacts on people’s lives and impact on their families is unacceptable,” Quaye added.
One of the issues authorities will face is educating drivers, who Quaye speculates believe they will not be caught or are even unaware of the consequences of drunk driving. Saskatchewan has already taken a proactive approach to tacking impaired driving, including passing legislation for tougher penalties on drivers. Vehicle seizures even for first-time offenders have been introduced, but it seems more must be done.
By the end of 2017, SGI has introduced 200 extra traffic enforcement officers to catch impaired drivers. However, there appears to be an education gap and that is where the government is hoping it can address concerning statistics. Quaye says SGI will launch public awareness campaigns during 2018 to remind drivers of the consequences of driving while under the influence of drink or drugs.
“We continue to look for ways and means to change the picture with respect to impaired driving,” he said. “There is a shift happening. We are very hopeful.”