A word about drunk driving statistics. We all read the stats that are compiled regularly on DUI offenses in Canada. They tell us how many people were arrested, injured, or killed, and how many of the drunk drivers were repeat offenders. We also use these figures to check which measures work best to discourage impaired driving: fines, imprisonment, counseling or ignition interlock devices.
There are also the stats behind the stats that give us a bigger picture than you see in provincial courts. For instance, in the last three complete months (March through May) of this year, there were 925 Saskatchewan DUI arrests.
Behind that statistic is another. In the US, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has determined that there is one drunk driving arrest for every 43,000 kilometers driven while drunk. So those 925 arrests represent an astonishing 39 million kilometers of drunk driving.
So even if the Canada figure is different, it’s clear that the Saskatchewan arrests are just a sampling of a much larger pool of drunk drivers in the province.
Saskatchewan: Good Progress, Some Hurdles Left
In 2014 Saskatchewan made some changes to their impaired driving laws in an effort to bring down the rate of alcohol-related collisions in the province. Among those changes:
- Mandatory ignition interlocks for convicted DUI offenders
- Immediate roadside vehicle impoundment
- Longer immediate suspensions for repeat offenders
Thanks to these and other measures, the province’s impaired-driving collision rate has gone down. So why are Saskatchewan DUI arrests still high?
The easy answer is that too many people are still making the decision to drink and drive. But that’s not really an answer.
Too many people aren’t aware that they are impaired. They get behind the wheel thinking they have “only had a few” and are okay to drive. They need to be educated as to the how little alcohol it takes to compromise one’s driving abilities.
Friends are unwilling to intervene. If you’re too polite to tell a friend that he or she should hand over the car keys, you’re not really a friend. It’s everyone’s responsibility to see that drunk drivers stay off the road.
Why should you pay attention to DUI statistics? Because they contain knowledge that could keep you from becoming one.