About 175 student delegates from across Saskatchewan were in Regina to take part in the 28th annual Students Against Drinking and Driving (SADD) provincial conference.
According to SADD, too many people, including young people continue to get behind the wheel after a few drinks.
SADD president, Dylan Griffin said the meeting is to highlight and raise concerns from a student perspective about the dangers of impaired driving.
“Our main goal is to have zero drinking and driving incidents in Saskatchewan, and we have a long way to go but every day, we’re working hard and chipping away at it,” Griffin explained.
He said the point of the conference is to share ideas and further raise awareness.
“Hopefully [the students] can take some of that back to their communities and expand their programs.”
Natasha Urkow is one of the featured motivational speakers. In 2008, Urkow was involved in a drinking and driving collision in Edmonton. She and five friends were passengers who allowed an intoxicated friend to drive.
The driver lost control of the car and it flipped over eight times. Urkow was not wearing a seatbelt and she was ejected through the windshield. Her back, and neck were broken in 10 places. Urkow had died at the scene but was resuscitated by first responders.
On Saturday, Urkow, now wheel-chair bound, shared her story about her decisions that day and why she now chooses to speak out about impaired driving.
“It’s not even just kids partying these days. It’s adults, it’s parents, it’s everyone,” she said.
“It’s the convenience of driving home, and people have the mentality that you can’t have fun without drinking to go out. People want to have a few drinks even if it’s risking their safety or the safety of others.”
According to the latest SGI statistics, about nine people each day are charged with impaired driving in the province this year.
“It’s really pathetic. In reality, it’s sad,” Urkow said.
She hopes her message will convince others to think twice about getting behind the wheel.
“It’s a very strong message that youth of today and really everybody needs to learn and remember the safety and precautions and when not to drink and drive, which is always,” she said.
Students at the two-day conference also heard from other community leaders. This includes the new Minister responsible for SGI, Joe Hargrave, city councillor Shawn Fraser and Regina’s deputy police chief Corey Zaharuk.