Saskatchewan has been known to have a high impaired driving rate, but it’s not just with vehicles.
According to director of the Canadian Safe Boating Council (CSBC), Ian Gilson, the province has the second highest rate of boating fatalities because of drinking in Canada at 60 per cent, while the national average is 40 per cent. Saskatchewan is only behind Manitoba.
The council has created initiatives to reduce these high percentages.
Operation Dry Water to reduce boating under the influence
The CSBC is launching their sixth annual “Operation Dry Water” campaign this August long weekend to get the word out about the dangers of impaired boating, both alcohol and recreational or prescription drugs.
“We’ve asked people ‘How would you live with yourself if through your impairment a loved one was either severely injured or killed?'” said Gilson.
“I think people have to ask themselves that question.”
He said it’s as simple as letting a child sit on the edge with their feet hanging into the water. It doesn’t take much power to send them under the boat.
“I don’t care how slowly you’re going, you’re not necessarily going to be able to stop before you’ve run over that person,” said Gilson.
He added the waves rocking the boat heightens the effects of drugs and alcohol.
This year’s campaign, running from August 4-6, is a little different with the upcoming legalization of marijuana.
Gilson said those who already use marijuana recreationally will use it more and those who haven’t tried it will get curious. They may use the drug during their favourite summer activity that could have a deadly cost.
“Let’s keep it really simple: Right across the country, impaired driving is impaired boating,” he said, adding the penalties are the same for both.
In some provinces, the punishment for driving a boat under the influence affects automobile driving privileges as well.