A few years ago, you might have had a hard time convincing someone from Saskatchewan that the province has a drunk driving problem. To this day, despite the harsh drunk driving penalties the province has passed and despite ignition interlocks for all offenders, some people are still in denial. A recent survey on CBC showed that one in five people still think drunk driving is no big deal, and it turns out that a lot of those drunk drivers are younger than you’d think.
According to data from Saskatchewan General Insurance (SGI), young people make up the bulk of drunk drivers in the province. They shared their data in a chart on CBC, and it clearly shows a huge upswing in the number of young drunk drivers.
This trend for young drunk drivers is hard to understand, especially considering the outreach within schools to change attitudes toward impaired driving. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) specifically focuses on youth attitudes toward drunk driving, and they have a school assembly program that brings anti-drunk driving videos like “24 Hours” to the students. There are also groups like Students Against Drunk Driving within the high schools.
Although young people are cited as being the most frequent drunk drivers, it could be that they’re just getting caught more often than older people. A lot of Saskatchewan is rural farmland, and there are endless back roads that people know aren’t frequented by the police. It could be that older drunk drivers just stay away from hot spots where they could get caught, while young people are more likely to drink and drive in populated areas.
Another reason why there could be so many young drunk drivers? It would be pretty hard to argue that you shouldn’t drink and drive when you see your parents doing it. If the CBC survey is any indication, there are a lot of parents in Saskatchewan who think drinking and driving is perfectly fine as long as you don’t drive too far.
It all adds up to a big problem in Saskatchewan, and although impaired driving penalties will stop these young people once they’re caught, they could be injured or killed long before police stop them at a random checkpoint. Just like Premier Brad Wall said recently, it’s past time to change all attitudes toward drunk driving in Saskatchewan.