Where is the most deadly place in Canada for impaired driving and impaired driving crashes? If you immediately thought of Saskatchewan, you would be right. The province consistently ranks at the top of the list for drunk drivers and drunk driving crashes causing death, and despite an ignition interlock program for all offenders, stiff fines, and driver’s license suspensions, people in Saskatchewan are routinely getting behind the wheel and, in some cases, considering it perfectly fine to do so.
But if Saskatchewan is at the top of the list for impaired drivers, Manitoba isn’t far behind. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), Saskatchewan ranks in with 54.80 of all traffic crashes resulting from alcohol use compared to 54.08 for Manitoba. Within a ten-hour period in September, Manitoba police had to attend two drunk driving crashes that left people injured or dead. Not long before those crashes a drunk driver drove straight into an airport building.
What hasn’t happened in Manitoba yet is what’s starting to happen in Saskatchewan. Although MADD has erected a monument to the victims of drunk driving in Winnipeg, Saskatchewan has been the home to what seems to be an endless series of high profile impaired driving crashes: one claimed the lives of a family of four near Saskatoon, another saw a conservation officer mowed down while he was directing traffic, or more recently, a father of two was killed while out training his dog in the middle of the day.
These crashes are causing people in Saskatchewan to finally wonder what’s going on in their province. As a resident, lawmaker, or law enforcement, it would be hard not to wonder whether or not the impaired driving problem is out of control when the former Deputy-premier is convicted of impaired driving too.
Whether the reason is endless kilometers of rural, un-patrolled roads that give drivers free rein to drink and drive or lax attitudes toward alcohol and driving, there’s no denying that there’s a serious impaired driving issue within central Canada. The only good news is that people are starting to notice, and that’s the first step toward real change.