May 1, 2019 2:11 pm

One bad decision: impaired driving focus of SGI’s May traffic spotlight

Nolan Barnes life was changed forever when the SUV he was a passenger in with an impaired driver behind the wheel crashed, leaving him a paraplegic.

SGI / Supplied

Nolan Barnes wants people to know about the dangers of impaired driving.

An SUV driven by an impaired driver was heading to Yorkton from Saskatoon nine years ago when it crashed, killing one person and leaving eight others injured.

READ MORE: Charges laid in crash that killed woman on Highway 4 south of Battleford, Sask.

Barnes was a passenger in the SUV and suffered a shattered back and a broken collarbone.

He was in an induced coma for two weeks, spent two months in hospital, and had to learn to get around in a wheelchair.

Barnes doesn’t want the same thing to happen to anyone else.

“I used to think I was invincible. Then I found out that I wasn’t,” Barnes said.

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During May, police will be focusing on impaired driving for SGI’s traffic safety spotlight.

Over 6,600 people have been injured in impaired driving crashes in Saskatchewan over the last decade, Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI) said.

Although the number of injuries is declining, 368 people were injured in the province during 2017 in impaired driving collisions.

“When we talk about impaired driving, the focus is often on the people who are killed; but impaired driving also injures – often very seriously — hundreds of people in Saskatchewan every year,” said Joe Hargrave, the minister responsible for SGI.

“For the people who are injured – and their families — the impacts are devastating and long-lasting. Sometimes, they’re forever.”

READ MORE: Sask. police lay 224 impaired driving offences in January

Barnes now shares his story at schools and events across the province.

He said he is brutally honest with what he says while speaking on the impact his choice has made on him and the people who care about him, and life as a paraplegic.

“Hopefully, hearing what I have to say will keep someone else from making the same mistake,” Barnes said.

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