September 2, 2017 11:55 am
Updated: September 3, 2017 2:23 pm

Weyburn, Sask. police combat impaired driving by giving free taxi vouchers

WATCH ABOVE: Drinking and driving continues to be a big problem in Saskatchewan. But now, a new impaired driving campaign, launched by Weyburn Police is hoping to curb that by offering free taxi rides. Christa Dao explains.

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A new campaign in Weyburn, Sask. is hoping to change the culture around impaired driving – by offering up prizes and free cab rides home.

The “This Ride’s On Us” campaign launched Thursday offers up a new innovative approach to tackling Saskatchewan’s drinking and driving problem.

READ MORE: Wasted: The culture of drinking and driving in Saskatchewan

Under the plan, customers who believe they have had too much to drink can leave their keys with the bar staff.

They will get a free cab voucher home and can pick up the keys at Weyburn Police Station the next day.

“Since 2014, we’ve seen an increase in impaired driving of about 22ish per cent…We’re not seeing a reduction so we’re trying something different,” Weyburn police chief Marlo Pritchard said.

“This is not don’t drink. This is don’t drink and drive.”

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For security reasons, keys are locked up and sealed and are only accessible by Weyburn police. The customer’s name will also be entered into a draw for prizes.

The grand prizes include a $500 travel voucher, as well as a “his and hers” watch from a local jewellery store.

The police chief said they’ve tried regular “Don’t Drink and Drive” campaigns for decades and they haven’t worked.

“If we get one key, we’ve taken one person off the road,” Pritchard said.

READ MORE: New laws aim to change culture of impaired driving in Saskatchewan

So far, 90 per cent of the city’s restaurant and bars have signed on.

“It’s one more step that is easier for us and it weighs off us, and they take their cabs and their keys, like ‘okay good, they’re home safe’,” Detours Bar and Grill server Nikkie Sliwka said.

All three Weyburn taxi cab companies are also on board. Amir Taxi owner Alexander Groisman believes the free cab rides home will curb people’s thirst to drink and drive.

“After two or three drinks, it’s the alcohol talking, not the person… The price for our service is way less than [the price of] impaired driving,” Groisman said.

Customers who don’t want to leave their car in the parking lot overnight can pay a fee and the cab company will drive them and their car home safely.

The pilot program is expected to last two months.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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