SGI urges Saskatchewanians to plan a safe ride home this holiday season

It’s officially checkstop season and SGI, as well as the Regina and Saskatoon police services are making one thing clear: there’s no excuse to drive impaired.

In a live Facebook video on Wednesday, they held a Q&A for anyone with questions about their options for a safe ride home and about the penalties if they didn’t use one.

SGI is using the live video to kick off its holiday campaign with a focus on impaired driving, especially as more people begin to attend year-end gatherings.

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“It’s holiday season,” said Medavie Health Services paramedic Troy Davies “Everyone’s kind of getting over that COVID-19 moment and trying to get back to maybe some work parties or parent parties, whatever it might be.”

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Davies says those parties should come with a caveat: to plan for a designated driver.

“We do see an increase in impaired crashes and deaths (this time of year),” Davies said. “That’s the number one cause (of crashes) that we see as paramedics: alcohol or impaired driving. Usually when we get called to those…. They’re bad.”

At a panel Wednesday morning, SGI unveiled a new video, showcasing numerous community figures asking that people take a sober second thought about their holiday plans.

“No one should die by an impaired driver,” said MADD Saskatoon spokesperson Bonny Stevenson. “You’re making that choice to get behind the wheel so we just need to keep encouraging people to make those correct choices.”

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Operation Red Nose, which usually offers a safe and sober ride home for people in communities across Canada, is not running this year due to COVID-19 concerns.

Marie-Chantal Fortin with Operation Red Nose says that if people are uncomfortable with a rideshare program, there are plenty of alternatives.

“You can talk to a friend in advance or a family member and say, ‘Hey, if I am in a bind and I call you at the last minute and will you come pick me up,’” she suggested, adding that this conversation can happen at any time of year and with multiple people.

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Fortin says because there will likely be more gatherings in people’s homes this year, hosts can do their part to encourage safe driving, too, by allowing people to stay over and offering plenty of alternatives.

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“When you’re having guests at your home, you should also plan to have alcohol-free drinks,” she said. “There’s really, really good mocktail recipes out there.”

The extra push this year from officials across Saskatchewan is to encourage everyone to send a text or make a call as early as possible to get a safe ride and save lives this holiday season.

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