One out of 5 Saskatchewan residents appear to be deluded about the dangers of drunk driving.
A recent Mainstreet/Postmedia survey asked people from that province if they agreed with the statement, “Driving under the influence is OK if you are travelling a short distance on quiet roads.” It might surprise you to find out that 19 percent of respondents agreed with that statement.
19 percent of Saskatchewan residents clearly don’t have a clue.
Drunk driving is not only a crime; it is a dangerous practice that is still the number one killer on roads in the province. In 2014 59 people were killed in alcohol-related road collisions, about 42 percent of all fatalities. A large number of Saskatchewan’s 5800 road injuries were also the result of impaired driving.
Some of those deaths, moreover, happened while the victims traveled “a short distance on quiet roads.”
The battle to end drunk driving is a battle of perceptions. Back before the 1980s people excused drunk driving as mostly benign, or dismissed it as inevitable. Gradually our perceptions changed and we understood that impaired driving was both lethal and preventable. The fall in casualties has been dramatic.
We thought the message was getting through to everyone.
It appears Saskatchewan, at least, is in danger of backsliding, particularly since it was largely younger respondents ( age 18 to 34) who agreed. People in areas with smaller populations were also more likely to condone drunk driving, presumably since they were more often in a situation where they needed to ply those quiet roads after a drink or two.
The message needs to be sent once again. Government and safety advocates need to do some educating in Saskatchewan. Drunk driving is always dangerous, and this preventable crime is only preventable when people take it seriously. On quiet roads and on busy ones, short distances or long.