For Dwayne Hoeving, it was the knock on the door in the middle of the night that every parent dreads.
“When two police cars show up at your house at 3 a.m., you know something is wrong,” recalls Hoeving.
Dwayne’s daughter, Melissa, was driving home after a fun night playing board games with friends. She had plans to go shopping the next morning with the same friends. She was 21 years old, had just graduated from SIAST and had begun a new job.
Melissa never made it home that night. She was killed when her car was struck by an impaired driver who ran a red light going 137 km/h in a 50 km/h zone.
“Melissa was my oldest, my baby, my honey bee,” said Hoeving. “When a life is taken away unnecessarily, when it’s senseless like that, it’s even harder to take. It’s a life sentence for us.”
Like Melissa’s, far too many lives in Saskatchewan are cut short by the senseless decision to get behind the wheel while drunk or high. In 2012, there were more than 1,300 impaired driving collisions in Saskatchewan, killing 67 people and injuring more than 700 others. For that reason, impaired driving is the traffic safety spotlight for the entire month of May. Police across the province will be on the lookout for drivers impaired by alcohol or drugs. Distracted driving and excessive speed will also be a focus in May.
Effective June 27, 2014, traffic laws in the province are changing. A major change is harsher penalties for impaired drivers, including longer licence suspensions, vehicle seizures, and mandatory ignition interlock.
After Melissa’s death, Hoeving began teaching the Driving Without Impairment course and sharing his daughter’s story, so something positive could result from her death. The course is mandatory for first-time impaired driving offenders.
“If everybody tells one person not to drink and drive, that could be one life you’re saving,” said Hoeving. “If you have to ask yourself if you’ve had too many to drive, you’ve had too many.”
SGI reminds motorists to always plan a safe ride home. Choose a designated driver in advance, call a cab, call a friend or family member to pick you up, use a designated driving service, or take the bus. SGI even has a free SafeRide app to help you plan.
For more information on the upcoming traffic law changes, visit SGI’s website at www.sgi.sk.ca.