Ding in the New Year returns

Matt Gardner
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Prospective partygoers will once again have a safer choice for getting home this New Year’s Eve.

SGI has partnered with the city and Prince Albert Police Service for the annual Ding in the New Year program, which offers free bus services throughout the evening in a bid to lower the number of impaired driving incidents.

Local SGI claims office branch manager Ron Bird noted that drinking and driving remains the leading cause of fatal collisions in Saskatchewan.

During the holiday season alone last year, there were 112 alcohol-related vehicle collisions throughout the province, leading to 47 injuries and one death.

He offered other figures to point to the role that Ding in the New Year has played in reducing impaired driving in Regina, Saskatoon, Moose Jaw and Prince Albert.

“Over the past 25 years, Ding in the New Year has helped to make sure that more than 235,000 people across the province made it home safely on New Year’s Eve,” Bird said.

“In Prince Albert alone, an average of 500 people take advantage of this service each year both to enjoy the lights, displays and festivities throughout the community and at the end of the evening as a safe ride home.”

Four different bus routes will be running on New Year’s Eve, with three remaining the same as the usual daily routes.

The west hill route covers areas not covered by the 15th Street and all-day express buses.

“They get you to most of the restaurant locations on Second Avenue, Sixth Avenue, Cornerstone area,” city transportation manager Keri Sexsmith said.

“So if you need to or if you choose to ride the bus, there’s definitely a convenient way to get where you need to go.”

Maps of the New Year’s Eve bus routes will be available on the city and Prince Albert Police Service websites.

In Prince Albert alone, an average of 500 people take advantage of this service each year. Ron Bird

As an added bonus, those who partake in the program this year can share a picture of themselves on the bus from SGI’s Facebook page or tweet it to @SGItweets with the #princealbert and #dinginthenewyear hashtags to enter a contest to win a gift card and bus pass.

Ding in the New Year represents one of several initiatives to reduce drinking and driving in P.A. during the holiday season.

Also present at Monday’s announcement by SGI were members of the St. Mary High School contingent of Students Against Drinking and Driving (SADD), aka Students Against Destructive Decisions.

“We’re in big support of Ding in the New Year because it’s definitely our philosophy,” St. Mary vice-principal and SADD staff advisor Rob Tessier said.

“But of course we’re limited at the high school as far as in what capacity we can help out with that.”

Aside from continuing their efforts to raise awareness of the dangers of drinking and driving, the students have once again planned an initiative in partnership with local liquor stores.

“We’re decorating some of the bags that will be used as they sell their product there,” Tessier said.

“So they’ll be decorated from some of the children in the elementary schools as well as with their advisors, our students from the high school.”

Organizations: Prince Albert, Mary High School

Geographic location: Saskatchewan, Regina, Saskatoon Moose Jaw 15th Street Second Avenue Sixth Avenue P.A.

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