Impaired driving still number one killer on Sask. roads

The overall number of crashes involving alcohol in the province is down, but the number of fatal ones is on the rise.

59 people died in crashes involving alcohol in 2014

Holiday spot check and safe ride programs are still needed in Greater Sudbury. (CBC)

While the number of accidents involving alcohol is dropping in Saskatchewan, the number of fatal ones is on the rise.

Allan Kerpan knows all too well the repercussions of that rising number. 

On Oct. 10, 2014, Kerpan's world changed. At about 1:15 a.m. CST his phone rang at his home near Kenaston, Sask.

It was a police officer calling to inform Kerpan that his 25-year-old daughter, Danille, had died in an accident on Highway 11. The accident involved a drunk driver. 

In January, a Saskatoon man was sentenced to four years in prison for causing the fatal crash.

Danille Kerpan is just one of the 59 people who died in crashes involving alcohol in 2014. 

This graph from SGI's 2014 Saskatchewan Traffic Accident Facts report shows the number of fatal collisions involving alcohol. In 2014, there were 50. (SGI)

SGI has just released its lengthy annual report on traffic accidents in Saskatchewan.

The report showed that the total number of accidents involving alcohol is the lowest it has been in five years, but the number of fatal accidents involving alcohol has not followed that trend.

In fact, 17 more people died in crashes involving alcohol in 2014 than in 2013. 

Tougher penalties brought in

In June 2014, SGI brought in tougher consequences for impaired drivers. 

Some of the changes included longer license suspensions and vehicle seizures. It also brought in zero tolerance for alcohol when it comes to drivers under the age of 19. 

The changes were made in response to recommendations made by a committee on traffic safety that looked specifically at deaths on Saskatchewan roads.

Back in 2013, Statistics Canada data showed Saskatchewan had the worst record for impaired driving of all the provinces.  

Whether those tougher consequences have had an impact won't be known until the next set of statistics come out — in 2017.


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