The motto of Sault Ste. Marie, on the St. Mary’s River, is “Naturally Gifted,” thanks to its abundant lakes, rivers, and greenery. In one area, though, the city is seeking artificial intervention: drunk driving. The number of DUI arrests has increased by 50% since 2014.
What could cause such a dramatic increase in DUI arrests from one year to the next?
- A statistical anomaly. Sometimes numbers vary by chance. If they go back down, it will be no cause for alarm.
- An increase in drinking overall. If more people are consuming alcohol, more drunk drivers will appear, even if the percentage remains constant.
- Culture changes. If a practice such as binge drinking takes off in a bastion of youth culture, such as a college, then more young people will be making bad decisions. The 21-24 age group is the one responsible for the most drunk driving.
- A change in demographics. A shift towards younger people (say, from a local school increasing enrollment) or an influx of younger workers to a town for a large work project can tip the balance.
- Economic shifts. When a large employer goes out of business or stages a mass layoff, the resulting economic stress can lead to more drinking and DUI arrests as well.
- Better enforcement. When police are determined to target drunk drivers on the road, arrests go up, which sometimes causes the impression that drunk driving is going up as well. It could be so, but the two statistics are unrelated.
Not all of these apply to Sault Ste. Marie, of course. But whatever the cause, the Police Service are determined to get those impaired drivers off the road. The are enlisting the public in the cause, asking citizens to report suspected drunk drivers, giving a description of the vehicle, its location and direction. This strategy has been known to work in other parts of Canada.
We wish the Sault Ste. Marie Police Service luck in their efforts to make their roads safer for everyone. Impaired drivers have no place on the road in Sault Ste. Marie or anywhere else.