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Home News Minister promises more police officers, higher fines, and increased education campaigns to reduce automobile collision fatalities

Minister promises more police officers, higher fines, and increased education campaigns to reduce automobile collision fatalities

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Minister promises more police officers, higher fines, and increased education campaigns to reduce automobile collision fatalities
The smashed car display is meant to show the impact of impaired driving and is displayed on Highway 2 north of Prince Albert. -- Michael Oleksyn/Daily Herald

More police officers, higher fines, and an increase in public education campaigns are some of the options under consideration from the provincial government to help decrease the number of automobile collision fatalities.

Saskatchewan reported 87 such fatalities in 2021—the same number as in 2020. That marked the third straight year of less than 100 deaths on Saskatchewan roads, but Minister Responsible for SGI Don Morgan said the province wants to see those numbers dropping, not remaining unchanged.

He said the province would like to get fatalities below the 2019 level, when an all-time low 71 people were killed on Saskatchewan roads and highways.

“Our intention is to ramp up the enforcement,” Morgan said on Wednesday. “We had more check stops this Christmas than we ever had before. We will likely increase the use of photo radar—a lot of accidents were speed related—probably more higher fines and then more public awareness.”

Morgan said families who have been impacted by vehicle fatalities have been vital to public education campaigns. He pointed to the family of Jordan and Chanda Van de Vorst, the couple who were killed along with their two children by an impaired driver on the outskirts of Saskatoon in 2016, as good examples of residents who were good at getting the word out about the dangers of impaired driving.

However, he also said those public education campaigns are just part of the solution.

“We’ll continue to promote the public education side,” Morgan said. “On the enforcement side, we will have more police on the road, more prosecutions, and hopefully that starts to get the message (across).”

Morgan added that more police on the roads won’t mean paying for more officers in communities like Prince Albert. Instead, he said the province plans to focus more on regional policing models, which he said can benefit multiple communities.

“I’m not committing to any more specific resources for any particular community, but I want to make sure we get the resources used as efficiently and as effectively as we can,” he said.

Four of Saskatchewan’s 87 automobile fatalities occurred on the outskirts of Prince Albert. Another two were recorded around Big River. Not all investigations are complete, but preliminary data shows impaired driving, distracted driving, speeding, and not wearing a seatbelt continue to be the main safety concerns.

“Statistically speaking, Saskatchewan roads are the safest they’ve ever been. However, there is still significant room for improvement,” SGI Traffic Safety vice-president Kwei Quaye said in a media release. “Every driver has the ability to contribute to safer roads for themselves, other drivers, and all road users.”

Roughly one-third of fatalities in completed investigations were due to victims not wearing their seatbelts, or being improperly restrained. This does not include deaths involving pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists or ATV riders. Speeding and driver distraction are factors in more than 20 per cent of road fatalities. Impaired driving continues to be the leading cause of traffic deaths.

Injury and overall collision data from 2021 is not yet available.