As Saskatchewan gets tougher on drunk drivers, the province is looking at less punitive ways to prevent impaired drivers from getting behind the wheel.
The province is working with various government ministries and agencies, like SGI and Innovation Saskatchewan, to test out several pilot projects from the August long weekend until Labour Day.
“We can’t continue to keep doing what we’re doing and expect different results. I think we have to try multiple different ways at getting at the problem,” said Tina Beaudry-Mellor, minister responsible for Innovation Saskatchewan.
“Positive Ticketing” is one new approach to reward sober drivers at check stops. Police officers will issue these positive tickets which will encourage drivers to speak about their experience on social media using #CareAboutImpaired. They will be eligible to win one of 25 $150 VISA gift cards.
Another pilot project called “Drive Dollars” focuses on drinking establishments. While at the bar, customers will be encouraged to put some money toward a tab for a taxi. The province is also considering matching the tab if it increases the chance for people to plan ahead for a safe ride home. Beaudry-Mellor said only one bar is on board right now — Victoria’s Tavern in Regina.
“We’ve left it open for ride-sharing in the future or a designated driving service like one of the services that take your car home for you,” she said.
The government is also rolling out more sobering messages to get people talking about how they plan to get home and the consequences of impaired driving. That project includes a social media campaign with #howareyougettinghome, putting children’s drawings on liquor store bags and police stopping by the bar.
“Over a weekend night the police will show up in uniform and, if there’s a loudspeaker service, will just say ‘Hey everyone, I hope you’re having a good time and please make sure you don’t drink and drive,'” said Beaudry Mellor.
The Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority also added two questions to the liquor permit application. For example, when planning a wedding, it will ask what the plan is to get your guests home safely.
“Hopefully we’re saving lives and that’s the most important thing. We’ve seen some really tragic examples in this province where people were killed or injured as a result of drinking and driving and we don’t want to see that anymore.”