Dec 26, 2014 - SELFISH CHOICE TO DRIVE DRUNK


Twenty years ago, a particular group of 16,596 Saskatchewan people was getting ready to celebrate the Christmas and New Year festivities, just as many of us are today.

A few were doubtless related or were friends, but most were complete strangers. They lived all over this province. As Christmas 1994 drew near, gifts were purchased, family gatherings planned and New Year's resolutions were likely pondered. No doubt it was a hectic, but happy time.

Within a year, 61 of them would be dead. Almost 1,000 more would suffer injuries - in some cases severe and life-altering - by the end of 1995. Year after year, the sad numbers continued to grow. By the end of 2012, 1,094 of them had been killed. Another 15,502 were injured.

The incalculable misery of all those deaths and injuries wasn't a result of what some might call "accidents." It was caused by the selfish choices of people drinking and driving.

SGI statistics on the toll from collisions involving alcohol are as frightening as they are tragic. But many continue to ignore the message that drinking and driving snuffs out lives, ends dreams and spreads untold heartache.

A reckless disregard for the safety of others is surely the only explanation for Saskatchewan having the worst rate of impaired driving of all provinces. During last Christmas and the New Year (Dec. 1, 2013 to Jan. 3, 2014) there were 109 alcohol/drug-related collisions. Though no one died, 39 people were injured.

This isn't just a problem at Christmas of course. Alcoholrelated collisions are a year-round issue. However, there is a particular focus on it at this time of year as the alcohol flows at parties and family gatherings.

Indeed, SGI says police across the province will be "paying extra attention" to impaired driving this month. In addition to the Criminal Code consequences of impaired driving - hefty fines and jail - this is the first Christmas and New Year season in which law enforcement will be able to use new Saskatchewan traffic laws that came into force in June.

Drivers who drink a small amount of alcohol that's below the level that triggers criminal charges will still face serious consequences if they are caught by police.

They include: Zero alcohol/drug tolerance for new drivers. If any alcohol or drugs are detected, a first offence will net an immediate 60-day roadside licence suspension and a three-day vehicle impoundment. Subsequent offences will net up to an 18-month suspension, seven-day vehicle impoundment and other penalties.

An immediate three-day roadside licence suspension for any experienced driver caught with between 0.04 and 0.08 blood-alcohol level. Subsequent offences carry longer suspensions, vehicle impoundment for up to 14 days and mandatory ignition interlock use.

Drinking and driving is a choice - a very bad one. We hope people will instead choose to use a designated driver, take a cab or a bus. Riding Saskatoon Transit is once again free on New Year's Eve. Be safe, not sorry.

The editorials that appear in this space represent the opinion of The StarPhoenix. They are unsigned because they do not necessarily represent the personal views of the writers. The positions taken in the editorials are arrived at through discussion among the members of the newspaper's editorial board, which operates independently from the news departments of the paper.

Source: The Star Phoenix


 

Last updated on: 2015-01-07 | Link to this post