It’s pretty well known that Saskatchewan has a serious problem with their impaired driving rates. From the conservation officer plowed down when he was helping at a crash site to the family of four who were struck and killed near Saskatoon, it’s tragic that these lives have been lost to something that’s 100% preventable.
Recent statistics from SGI showed that Saskatchewan holds the record for the highest number of impaired drivers, and with approximately one hundred non-life threatening crashes per month, both law enforcement and lawmakers have had to seriously consider what’s causing people to drink and drive in the province.
According to Global News, Saskatchewan has a culture of drinking and driving. Although they don’t elaborate on what that means exactly, you could speculate that the people living there have the attitude that getting behind the wheel after drinking is really no big deal.
Along with those perceived attitudes, there are a lot of different issues the province has that could also be contributing to the number of impaired drivers. Saskatchewan had a population of 1.13 million as of 2014. That’s low compared to the population in British Columbia at 4.631 million and Alberta at 4.146 million, so it makes sense that the province doesn’t have the same amenities and infrastructure that other provinces do.
Unfortunately that also contributes to a population without the same choices of entertainment you’d find in other provinces, and spending the evening binge drinking for entertainment is common. It’s also common for people to choose to go to bars, pubs, or a friend’s place and drive between those stops.
Saskatchewan is made up of back roads, especially out in the country. If you want to drink but not run into a police officer, there are multiple routes you can take to get to your destination. According to the Global article, the roads in the province could circle the equator four times. With the majority of those roads being dirt roads that have been there for decades, it seems impossible for the limited amount of law enforcement in small towns to catch all of those drivers. And if an impaired driver doesn’t get caught, they’ll think it’s just fine to drive drunk again.
The government of Saskatchewan has changed the impaired driving laws to crack down on people who drink and drive, but clearly, they’re going to need to do a bit more. They might want to take a cue from states like Arizona, where they have penalties like extreme DUI (driving under the influence). Not only does the offender have all of the same penalties as a standard DUI, they get extra fines that hit them straight in the pocket book.
You could speculate all day as to the reasons why impaired driving rates are so high in Saskatchewan, but it really all comes down to the people who live there. They need to start changing their attitudes toward drunk driving because they are the people putting the keys in the ignition and driving the car. Only when the majority of the province starts saying no to drunk driving will they finally see a drop in impaired driving rates.