New report released today explores impact of impaired driving deaths on families

SASKATOON, Saskatchewan, Sept. 28, 2018 — Understanding the Effects of Impaired Driving in Saskatchewan: Perspectives of Family Members of Victims Killed by an Impaired Driver”, a new report by Community Safety Knowledge Alliance (CSKA) and MADD Canada, is being released today. 

Historically, Saskatchewan has had some of the highest rates of impaired driving and impaired driving causing death in Canada.  While a number of measures, including legislative changes, have been implemented in an effort to reduce the incidence of impaired driving, CSKA sought to better understand the impact on families that a sudden, traumatic death of a loved one has on their health, relationships, employment and finances, as well as their experiences with the criminal justice system.  Little Canadian research has been conducted into these experiences and impacts.

This exploratory research examining the lived experiences of family members was conducted by Dr. Nicolas A. Jones of the University of Regina and Jody Burnett, Ph.D.  The secondary victimization experienced by family members often results in significant harms that affect families in multiple and diverse ways.  Their experiences as reported in this study are expected to inform improvements to public policy in such areas as victim services and how families experience the criminal justice system.

A summary of the report is being presented this weekend at MADD Canada’s National Leadership Conference, which brings together approximately 200 of the organization’s Chapter and Community Leader volunteers from around the country. The conference, which offers keynote sessions and workshops to help local volunteer groups in their activities toward MADD Canada’s mission to stop impaired driving and to support victims of this violent crime, is focused around victim and survivor support this year.

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The CSKA study brings forward the voices of 13 members of Saskatchewan families whose lived experiences are often raw and powerful.

“My wife Linda and I were pleased to take part in the CSKA research and share our experiences with the justice system” said Lou Van de Vorst, whose son Jordan, daughter-in-law Chanda and grandchildren Kamryn (5) and Miguire (2) were killed by an impaired driver. “One of the key things we conveyed was that victims of impaired driving need accurate, realistic information about the justice system and our role in it, and that we may need different information and resources at different stages of the process,”

“We hope this report is just a first step towards a justice system that truly recognizes the impact of impaired driving on victims,” said Allan Kerpan, who participated in the study with his wife Melanie. The couple’s 25-year-old daughter Danille was killed in an impaired driving crash in 2014. “We need a system that is more responsive to victims’ needs, and that offers programs and services to help people, not only in the short-term, but over the long-term as well.”

Nicholas Jones, Ph.D. said of working on the project, “My sincere gratitude goes out to the family members who contributed to this research. Their stories surrounding their devastating experiences provided valuable insights that will surely help shape the direction of future approaches to reducing the incidence of impaired driving as well as help those victimized by these preventable events.” 

“I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to be part of this inquiry.   Such research is truly understudied at a global scale, and yet is having such an impact on the lives of so many families and communities across Saskatchewan and beyond” said researcher Jody Burnett, Ph.D. “This work provided a platform for families victimized by the tragedy of impaired driving to candidly expose the realities they have experienced.  Work from this perspective is so critical because it provides a new lens by which various government agencies can glean key insights that can help to inform future policy and protocols to better support individuals and families affected by the tragedy and loss incurred by impaired driving.”

About CSKA

Founded in 2015, CSKA is a non-profit organization that supports governments and others in the design, development, and implementation of new and effective models of, and approaches to, community safety and well-being. 

About MADD Canada

MADD Canada a national, charitable organization that is committed to stopping impaired driving and supporting the victims of this violent crime. With volunteer-driven groups in more than 100 communities across Canada, MADD Canada aims to offer support services to victims, heighten awareness of the dangers of impaired driving and save lives and prevent injuries on our roads. To learn more, visit www.madd.ca.

For more information, please contact:

Shannon Fraser Hansen, CSKA 306-384-2751 [email protected] Steve Sullivan, MADD Canada Director of Victim Services 613-617-6233 [email protected]

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