November 28, 2020
Each time advocates Linda and Lou Van de Vorst speak against impaired driving, they remember the night they lost so much to a drunk driver.
“It hurts,” Linda said. “Any kind of presentation we do brings us back to (the early morning of) Jan. 3, 2016.”
“Every single presentation brings us back to that time when that phone rings and the police officer is coming into our house to tell us the news.”
Their son, daughter-in-law and two grandchildren died in the collision.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) recognized the work that awful experience inspired on Friday.
Minister Responsible for Saskatchewan Government Insurance Don Morgan and Highways Minister Joe Hargrave presented the Van de Vorsts with the first Robert M. Solomon Award for Excellence in Public Policy for their advocacy against impaired driving.
Presented outside Morgan’s Saskatoon constituency office, the award is named after University of Western Ontario law professor Robert Soloman, who has served as an impaired driving advocate and MADD Canada’s national director of legal policy for 21 years.
Hargrave said the Van de Vorsts “worked tirelessly” and made themselves readily available to share their experiences and speak out against impaired driving.
This year, SGI reported impaired driving fatalities have declined.
In 2019, there were 21 deaths related to impaired driving, compared to 42 the year before. The average yearly number of deaths between 2009 and 2018 is 54, with more recent years trending downward, according to SGI.
While 2019 had the lowest number on record, “21 is still 21,” Lou said. “We’ll work to reduce that number further.”
The couple also credited the decline in fatalities to changes like the province’s move to tighten impaired driving rules in 2016, and programs to report impaired drivers.
In their own work, they’ve spoken to schools and have been active volunteers with MADD. Lou compared stopping impaired driving to past efforts convincing drivers to wear seat belts or asking restaurant guests to smoke outdoors.
He encourages people not to lose sight of the dangers of impaired driving during the holidays. Reducing fatalities and injuries will come from a combination of creating and enforcing impaired driving laws, educating the public and taking social responsibility, he added.
As the holidays approach, it’s everyone’s responsibility to plan safe ways home.
“I do not want to see something happening a week before Christmas, to some poor family where they lose a daughter, or a father and mother, or anybody.”