Checkstops prove worth in reducing drunk driving
Drunk driving has dropped significantly on campus in the past couple of years, and Campus Safety plans to try to reduce it even more.
The officer in charge of the initiative, Special Constable Matt Lambe, says the numbers of alcohol-related charges against drivers on U of S roadways that lead to licence suspensions, vehicle impoundments and impaired driving charges are going down.
He attributes this to a change in attitude on the part of students, staff, faculty and visitors to campus, thanks in part to a multi-pronged effort in recent years to educate students and reward those using designated drivers.
“There is a vast, vast improvement” in the drunk driving situation, Lambe says. “Most of the people we stop in checkstops now have designated drivers, such as parents, friends or other students. Students are adapting well to the (designated driver) idea,” he added. “They’re thinking ahead and being more responsible.”
In the three-year period of 2003 to 2005, the number of 24-hour or 30-day roadside licence suspensions on campus dropped from 30 to 13. Campus Safety, supported by Saskatoon and Corman Park police and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), conducts between five and 10 roadside checkstops each year, usually targeted on a weekend night at Louis’ Pub. Its officers, with co-operation from Louis’ and the U of S Students’ Union (USSU), are also presenting an increasing number of talks to campus student groups, student event planners, residence tenants and others.
Lambe says there are also benefits offered for responsible behaviour. Rainbow Auto Spa donates free car washes for some designated drivers, and Louis’ provides parking vouchers for those who don’t want to drive home after leaving the pub, giving them immunity from campus parking tickets until late the next morning.
And in a program launched in 2004, each December and April a draw is made from entries from designated drivers and their drinking friends for a $1,500 travel voucher donated by TravelCuts, Saskatchewan Government Insurance, SaskTel, MADD, Global TV, the USSU and Louis’. The TRIP (Taking Responsibility for Intoxicated Passengers) program is just one more way that “we’re trying to encourage students to be responsible and proactive,” Lambe says.
He adds it is rewarding when a parent driver passes through one of their checkstops and tells Campus Safety officers they’re conducting “a great program. We’ve had tons of compliments, especially from parents.”
Lambe says Campus Safety will keep up with its highly visible efforts to further reduce drunk driving.