Five of 12 students questioned said they would consider driving under the influence, with two saying they have done so within the past two months.
The anonymous survey was conducted in late November, on SAIT campus.
Peggy Gougeon with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Canada, said it’s clear that much more needs to be done to change opinions on drunk driving.
“This year we are seeing more people drinking and driving,” Gougeon said in an interview, in response to the SAIT results.
An earlier poll conducted by Mainstreet/Postmedia, sampling 2,500 Albertans at random, suggested that nearly one in five would drive after drinking.
Gougeon said that driving under the influence can become a habit for some people.
“They got away with it once, so what’s to stop them from doing it again?”
Gougeon said education is important for prevention, and MADD has programs in place to teach students about the dangers of driving under the influence, and the lasting impact that it has on its victims.
MADD brings further awareness by recreating accidents that were a result of drunk driving, through shockingly real multimedia presentations.
The presentations show videos of victims speaking out, and will often have these victims available in person for students to speak to after the presentation.
“After going to one of those and hearing these victims speak, it really hits home,” said Gougeon.
“I know I have a hard time watching them.”
However, she said that while these tools are popular in elementary and high schools, they are rarely utilized by universities.
“I think these multimedia programs need to be brought to universities,” said Gougeon.
Even though young people are taught the dangers of impaired driving, Gougeon said that once they reach the age where they can drink, their mindset can change.
“They see other people doing it, and they think, ‘It won’t happen to me,’” said Gougeon.
“I think they just need that reminder.”
Jessica Gerein, a recent SAIT graduate who grew up in rural Saskatchewan, said that she’s concerned with the growing problem of young drunk drivers.
Gerein said that she believes that if people begin drinking and driving when they’re young, the problem will only get worse as they get older.
“My generation had it nearly drilled into our heads not to drink and drive,” said Gerein.
“But as you get older, and hold more responsibility, the less people question the choices you make.”
Gerein said that it’s important to make sure that safe and affordable rides home are easily accessible for people who have been drinking.
I think these multimedia programs need to be brought to universities.
– Peggy Gougeon, MADD Canada
Designated driving companies such as Keys Please are great alternatives to driving drunk, and will also get your vehicle home safely, but Gerein also stressed the importance of promoting these types of companies.
“I think a lot of people don’t even know that these kinds of programs exist,” said Gerein.