By Joel van der Veen
KENASTON — Have we become numb to the numbers?
It’s a question that’s on the mind of Allan Kerpan, as Saskatchewan continues to have one of Canada’s leading rates of death due to impaired driving.
Between 2008 and 2012, an average of 68 people per year were killed in the province as the result of impaired driving.
That statistic took on personal significance for Allan and his wife Melanie on Thanksgiving weekend last year.
Oct. 10 marked the one-year anniversary of the death of their 25-year-old daughter Danille, who was driving on Highway 11 near Bladworth when her vehicle collided head-on with a truck headed north in a southbound lane.
It was a tragedy and an avoidable accident at the same time — yet, dozens of people in the province each year share her fate.
“It’s sort of become routine for you guys, the media, to cover these crashes,” said Allan. “It just keeps going, nothing ever changes . . . How can we accept this?”
Allan, a farmer and a former MP and MLA, and Melanie, a retired teacher, said last week they want to honour their daughter’s memory by taking action against impaired driving in Saskatchewan.
Melanie said they want to “make something positive out of a very bad situation,” while Allan added, “She’d want something (good) to come out of it.”
Allan said he has been learning about various organizations that work to support victims of impaired driving and their families, including Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and Families for Justice.
He attended MADD’s annual National Conference for Victims for Impaired Driving in Oakville, Ont., in April, where Danille’s picture was displayed along with those of countless other victims.
Allan said he has been invited to work on some projects for MADD within the province, where the organization has only a limited presence. These include roadside memorials to victims and possibly a larger monument in one of the cities.
In late March, Kerpan was given time to speak to some of his former colleagues in a meeting of the Saskatchewan Party caucus. He used that time to talk about impaired driving and to offer some suggestions for the province’s high rate of related deaths.
Kerpan said some of the ideas he presented include a “three-strike rule” that would take away an offender’s driving privileges permanently, and automatic jail sentences for those caught driving after their license has been suspended.
He said he’s especially angered by reports of repeat offenders and added that Saskatchewan should look at other provinces to see how they’ve improved their numbers.
For the full story, please see the Oct. 12 edition of The Davidson Leader.