The number of road fatalities has dropped to an all-time low in this province.
Just 71 people died in traffic accidents in Saskatchewan in 2019, according to the government, the lowest in recorded history. The previous low was 73 fatalities in 1951.
“I want to say thank you to the people of Saskatchewan for helping improve road safety,” said Joe Hargrave, Minister responsible for SGI, during a media conference on Monday.
“Seventy-one deaths are still 71 too many.”
The worst year for driving related fatalities was 2012, with 183 deaths, including 70 involving impairment. That year Saskatchewan was the second worst province for the number of fatalities in Canada; today it is the third best.
The past year’s downward trend in traffic fatalities is welcomed news, considering from 2009-2018 Saskatchewan has averaged nearly 140 road fatalities per year. In 2018 Saskatchewan had 129 fatalities. In 2017 there were 100 people who lost their lives. Hargrave wants Saskatchewan residents to bear in mind there is still work to be done.
The contributing factors to the 2019 traffic fatalities will not be available until May or June. While the details of the statistics are not yet available, the hope is that releasing the news of the downward trend in 2019 traffic fatalities would encourage Saskatchewan drivers to continue to practise safe driving habits.
“How do we make our roads safe to save lives and prevent injuries?” said Hargrave. “It comes down to individuals making good choices, following traffic laws, driving sober, avoiding distractions, watching our speed and buckling up. Our work is not done, we need to continue to drive down the number of preventable deaths we see in this province and we can do it if everyone does their part.
“I’m asking every single driver in this entire province of Saskatchewan to think about this every time they get behind the wheel.”
Hargrave estimates the number of traffic injuries has also decreased. While there is no definitive contributing factors to this downward trend, Hargrave wants to remind residents that the police check stops, camera radar and SGI reminders are all measures that strive toward making Saskatchewan roads the safest in Canada. He also thanks the many groups that contribute to making Saskatchewan roads safer.
The number of distracted driving tickets was down this month compared to the number of tickets issued in November and December. In an effort to reduce distracted driving the government will increase fines Feb.1.
Distracted driving ranges from texting and eating to talking to a passenger and driving with undue care and attention.
Continued awareness and education is essential in decreasing the number of traffic fatalities, Hargrave said.
RCMP Superintendent Grant St. Germaine said for rural highways, where speeding incidents have dropped significantly across the country, police will be actively patrolling for distracted driving.
“We’ve been hammering real hard on the rural highways” said St. Germaine. “Were using new techniques…we’re going out and we’re getting rental vehicles so we’re getting half ton trucks and we’re driving the highways and we’ll have marked units strategically placed along the way so we can radio in and say, “Listen we just passed a person on their cell phone’.”
The rental vehicle technique has been successful, said Germaine.