It’s a seasonal tradition to eat, drink and be merry over Christmas and the New Year — and for some, that means a glass or two of their favourite tipple.

There’s nothing wrong with that, but, regrettably, some drinkers will then choose to drive.

For hundreds of people, the decision to get behind the wheel after consuming alcohol will result in unpleasant memories on every Christmas and New Year to come. Those memories will be heartbreaking for some — and for a few, this will be their last festive season.

This is the stark reality about the potential consequences of drinking and driving and the disruption and devastation it brings to so many families in this province.

To be blunt, Saskatchewan has a big problem here — the highest rate of impaired driving fatalities per capita in Canada. Saskatchewan Government Insurance statistics from 2000 to 2012 showed that 41 per cent of deaths and 12 per cent of injuries on our roads and highways were “alcohol related”.

Last December was sadly typical of the shadow impaired driving casts over what should be a time of joy in the province:

• Three people were killed and 44 injured over the Christmas/New Year holiday period in what SGI said were “98 preventable collisions” caused by impaired drivers.

• 264 impaired drivers were caught by police and hit with criminal charges. Those convicted lost their licence for a year or more and were handed hefty fines and even jail time. 

• Police apprehended a further 79 experienced drivers and 38 novice drivers who, though not legally impaired (.08), had consumed some alcohol — enough to trigger penalties like immediate roadside suspensions, vehicle impoundment (with hundreds of dollars in towing and storage charges) and other sanctions.

The real tragedy here is that the loss of life, often-catastrophic life-changing injuries and legal penalties that sometimes result in lost employment, are completely avoidable. Drinking and driving is simply a choice — a very bad one.

Drinkers should instead nominate a designated driver before the fun starts, or call a cab. 

On New Year’s Eve, drinkers can take a free bus ride home after toasting in 2016, thanks to Regina Transit (supported by sponsors like SGI). The Ding In The New Year program (which is also available in Moose Jaw, Saskatoon and Prince Albert) offers free transit and paratransit service from 7 p.m. on Dec. 31 to 2:15 a.m. on Jan. 1.

Given countless studies that have shown how even moderate drinking slows reactions and affects judgment, there really is no safe alcohol consumption limit for drivers.

Enjoy a drink if you wish, but please don’t drive afterwards. 

Source: Leader Post


Last updated on: 2016-01-06 | Link to this post