CTV News Regina
May 14, 2019

A Mothers Against Drunk Driving chapter is putting up big arrow signs that read “Impaired driver caught here” all around Estevan, Sask., which police and supporters hope will deter drunk driving.

Police in Estevan are hoping the new tactic will help reduce the city’s and province’s troubling impaired driving rates.

The signs are being placed on main and residential streets where some impaired drivers were caught by police in the last month.

The initiative was spearheaded by Connie Hagel, who launched the city’s Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) chapter nearly a year ago. She hopes the signs will make would-be drunk drivers think twice.

“If you think about it, you’re looking around the city and going, ‘Huh, maybe you didn’t think there [were] that many caught,’” she told CTV News Regina. She said obtaining the list of locations where alleged impaired drivers were arrested was easy.

She said police officers told her drunk driving was a “big issue” and were more than happy to provide her with the top ten problem areas for April.

The campaign was the result of brainstorming between MADD, members of the community and the Estevan Police Service. Police Chief Paul Ladouceur said the underlying message is simple.

“People will see these signs and realize just how many impaired drivers we’re dealing with in the community and more importantly how many are being caught,” he said. “The message is: you don’t want to be one of those people.”

“We aren’t surprised that there’s good support for it,” Ladouceur said.

UNACCEPTABLE IMPAIRED DRIVING RATES

According to statistics from Estevan Police Service, impaired driving numbers are on the downswing from previous years. But so far in 2019, police have laid 43 impaired driving charges.

Ladouceur calls the stats unacceptable and laments the brazen cased noted by his officers.

“We’ve had impaired drivers dropping their kids off to school in the morning, we’ve had impaired drivers in the middle of the day after lunch,” he said. “We’ve had impaired drivers, in fact, rear end some of our police vehicles.”

The issue of drunk driving has been a major problem for the whole province. “Saskatchewan tends to lead the country when it comes to impaired driving,” Ladouceur said.

He was citing last week’s report from Statistics Canada that showed Saskatchewan had the highest rate of impaired driving incidents in rural areas among all the provinces in 2017.

In that year, Saskatchewan’s rate — 939 incidents per 100,000 people — was nearly double that of Alberta, which came in second at 597 incidents per 100,000 people.

That report also found that the rate of impaired driving incidents that lead to death was seven times higher than the rate in urban areas. Incidents that led to bodily harm were three and a half times higher in rural areas than in urban ones.

The crown’s compulsory public auto insurance provider, Saskatchewan Government Insurance, noted the province was working with various MADD chapters to reduce impaired driving rates.

Both Ladouceur and Hagel told CTV News Regina they’d like to put up more signs in their city — ideally at every location where police caught impaired drivers. But they hope their new campaign will make this unnecessary.