One month after stricter traffic safety regulations came into effect in Saskatchewan, the good news is drunk driving is down significantly from the same period in 2013. The bad news is, the number is still unacceptably high according to SGI.
“What is most frustrating is the high number of penalties related to impaired driving—close to 900,” said Andrew Cartmell, president and CEO of SGI. “There’s simply no excuse for drinking and driving when there are so many options for getting home safely. Thanks to new vehicle seizure laws, drivers that don’t plan a safe ride home and choose to drive while impaired can now be removed from the road immediately, reducing the risk of a senseless collision and possible injury or death.”
As of June 27, stiffer penalties for impaired driving, distracted driving and high-risk behaviour such as excessive speeding include longer licence suspensions and vehicle seizures.
From June 27 to July 31, 948 people found out the hard way about the teeth of the new regulations.
Law enforcement agencies issued 515 roadside licence suspensions for impaired driving and seized 352 vehicles.
Officers also seized vehicles for unlicenced drivers (280) and high-risk driving (153).
The crackdown, both in legislation and enforcement, is predicated on reducing the death and destruction on Saskatchewan roadways.
Preliminary data from 2013 indicate 135 people were killed and 6,934 were injured in traffic collisions. National statistics are not currently available, but Saskatchewan consistently ranks among the worst in the country with rates nearly twice the national average.
Overall, impaired driving charges were down almost 30 per cent from last year. New drivers were charged 56 times compared to 70, experienced drivers with .04 to .08 blood alcohol content were charged 119 compared to 221 and 340 drivers were charged with having BAC above .08 or refusing to provide a breath sample.
Kelley Brinkworth, manager of media relations for the provincial insurer said there is no reliable way to determine if there is a correlation with the new regulations or it is simply a natural variation from year to year.
During August police are continuing to crackdown on distracted driving, which has become the top contributor to collisions in the province over the last two years.