December 1, 2015 by Canadian Underwriter
Following Saskatchewan’s safe winter driving focus in November, the province’s self-sustaining auto insurance fund said on Tuesday that this month, law enforcement officers across the province will be focused on drivers who are impaired by either drugs or alcohol.
On average in Saskatchewan, there are more than 1,300 collisions each year involving alcohol and/or other drugs, resulting in 58 deaths and 656 injuries, Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI) said in a press release. The numbers are based on the five-year average from 2010 to 2014 (with 2014 data being preliminary).
“These aren’t just numbers,” said Earl Cameron, vice president of the auto fund, in the release. “They are real people who have been hurt or killed because someone chose to drive impaired.”
Consequences for driving impaired by alcohol or drugs vary depending on driver experience and number of offences, and include fines, licence suspensions, vehicle seizures and mandatory ignition interlock for convicted impaired drivers. There is zero drug and alcohol tolerance for drivers under 19 years of age, and for all drivers in the Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) or Motorcycle GDL programs.
The release noted that police can detect drug-impaired drivers through the driver’s actions, such as weaving within a lane, delayed reaction times and inability to follow instructions, as well as the driver’s physical appearance, including dilated pupils, poor balance and coordination. Police can legally request a Standard Field Sobriety Test at the roadside for drug-impaired driving.
Illegal drugs, as well as some prescription drugs (e.g. antidepressants, painkillers) and over-the-counter drugs (e.g. antihistamines, motion sickness medications) can also impact driving ability, SGI said, adding that mixing different drugs together or mixing drugs with alcohol could increase impairment levels by as much as three times.
“Impaired driving collisions are 100 per cent preventable,” Cameron said in the release. “With so many options to not drive impaired, there are no excuses.”
The release also reminded drivers of the Report Impaired Drivers program, which encourages the public to call 911 to report a suspected impaired driver.