Designated driver rewards part of Saskatchewan plan to reduce drunk driving
REGINA — The Saskatchewan government is testing five pilot projects in an attempt to curb high rates of drunk driving, including one that rewards designated drivers.
“We can’t continue to keep doing what we are doing and expecting different results. I think we have to try multiple different ways at getting at the problem,” said Tina Beaudry-Mellor, the minister responsible for Innovation Saskatchewan.
One of the pilots would see police hand sober drivers “positive tickets” which, when used with the hashtag #CareAboutImpaired, would make them eligible to win a $150 Visa gift card.
Drive dollars is another pilot project where people drinking at Vic’s Tavern in Regina would be asked to put money towards a tab for a ride home. That money would then be matched by the provincial government.
If successful, Beaudry-Mellor said it could be expanded to other bars and pubs in the province.
The projects were designed through a collaboration between government, police and Crown corporations. Beaudry-Mellor said it’s important to use every tool at the government’s disposal.
Thirty-nine people died in crashes involving alcohol or drugs on Saskatchewan roads in 2017 and 57 died the year before.
In 2015, a Statistics Canada report showed Saskatchewan had the highest rate of police-reported impaired driving in Canada.
The issue made national headlines after the Van de Vorst family — Jordan and Chanda, as well as their two children, Miguire and Kamryn — were killed by a drunk driver near Saskatoon in 2016. Seven months later, cabinet minister and former deputy premier Don McMorris pleaded guilty to having a blood-alcohol level of more than .08 after he nearly rear-ended another vehicle while driving in Regina.
Premier Scott Moe was convicted of impaired driving in 1992 when he was 18 years old.
The province brought in tougher impaired driving laws at the start of 2017, but Beaudry-Mellor said increasing penalties is not always the best way to deal with drunk driving.
Another of the pilot projects will add two questions to the liquor permit application about safe rides for guests to get home. There will also will be a “sobering messages” campaign, which will include other hashtags on social media, police officers visiting local bars and children’s drawings printed on the brown liquor store bags.
“We just want people to think about how will you get home and all of these things get to that — not just the person who is consuming the alcohol but also the establishments that are serving it, also the people who are hosting events,” Beaudry-Mellor said.
The pilots will be tested from August long weekend until Labour Day. The results will then be analyzed to see which ones should be implemented on a larger scale.
— By Kelly Geraldine Malone in Winnipeg
News from © Canadian Press Enterprises Inc., 2018
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