SGI urges travellers to drive safely as province prepares for first long weekend since the July 11 reopening

Drive sober, slow down in construction zones, and wear your seatbelt.

Those are just a few of the messages SGI wants to send drivers as Saskatchewan residents enter their first long weekend since the province reopened on July 11.

SGI media relations manager Tyler McMurchy said residents developed a mentality of looking out for each other during the worst days of the pandemic. He’s hoping that behaviour will continue as everyone gets back on the road.

“I’m going to choose to be optimistic,” McMurchy said during a phone interview on Friday.

“We understand, obviously, that the restrictions have lifted. You can go more places, do more things. People will probably be taking advantage of that, as well they should. But, when it comes to driving, there are a few things you can do to reduce your risk of being involved in a collision and wrecking a long weekend, and we hope people will be mindful of that.”

McMurchy said speeding in construction zones is one of their biggest concerns this long weekend. He pointed to a recent video taken of a driver speeding past construction workers on Hwy 16 near Maymont as evidence that some drivers weren’t taking the necessary precautions.

“That was obviously a very scary situation,” McMurchy said of the Hwy 16 incident, which resulted in a three-vehicle collision. “We’ve got construction zones throughout this province, and there are people working in those zones who are very vulnerable. It’s really important that when you see orange, slow down and obey all the signage and instructions you get from flag persons to keep those folks safe.

“They’re working to make our roads safer to travel on, so as they’re doing that, the very least we can do is extend them the courtesy of slowing down and taking a few extra minutes…. It’s a long weekend. You’ve got plenty of time.”

Fines for speeding vary depending on where the incident occurred and how fast the driver was travelling. Base fines for a regular section of highway start at $100, but those speeding in construction zones pay a minimum of $240. In school zones, the fines start at $170.

McMurchy urged long weekend drivers to make the trip as enjoyable as possible instead of rushing to get to their destination.

“Just take it easy,” McMurchy said. “Make a couple of extra stops, or get some ice cream.”

MADD Canada also released a statement asking drivers to take care over the long weekend. In it, the organization urged drivers to plan ahead if their long weekend includes alcohol consumption. That may mean calling a taxi, taking public transit, or arranging to have a designated driver.

“Enjoy your long weekend everyone,” the statement reads. “Please keep roads safe by planning ahead for a sober ride home if you’re going to be consuming alcohol, cannabis, or other drugs.”