Last year was a particularly dangerous one for Saskatchewan drivers, and local MLA Darryl Hickie plans to figure out how to prevent that from happening again.
The Prince Albert Carlton MLA was one of 10 of his peers to be selected this week by Premier Brad Wall to serve as a legislative secretary. Hickie will work with Donna Harpauer, the minister responsible for SGI.
“I’m very honoured,” Hickie said of the appointment. “It’s a pleasure to serve in this capacity. It’s also one of those roles that fit nicely with my life as a police officer before and working toward overall public safety. “
Hickie’s focus will be on traffic safety -- an area he notes as falling right into his wheelhouse as not only a police officer but as the victim of a hit and run incident, himself.
While on the election trail of 2011, an alleged drunk driver struck Hickie’s campaign vehicle. No one was injured, but it highlights the dangers that are out there, which a few recent high-profile impaired driving-related deaths in the Prince Albert area are also symptomatic of.
Hickie’s intent is to focus a fair amount of time on impaired driving concerns. Taking to heart MADD Canada CEO Andrew Murie’s recent public call to action for Saskatchewan to curb its high impaired driving rate, Hickie recognizes that more needs to be done.
“There is some opportunity to look at longer-terms of impoundment of motor vehicles when it comes to initial suspensions -- moving that from 24 hours to maybe longer,” he said, noting that this is just one of the ideas that came to mind after Wall first brought up the appointment.
It’s not just impaired drivers that are cause for concern, but distracted drivers and those who don’t obey traffic laws, as well.
“I have lots of things going on in my mind, how I want to address the issue,” he enthusiastically said, adding that public awareness campaigns also appear to be making an impact.
In addition to working alongside Wall and Harpauer at addressing SGI-centered concerns, Hickie will chair an all-party committee dedicated to traffic safety.
“An all party committee is very important, because … it gives us a chance to go out and listen to the stakeholders in this province and not just have the government ask for input from a certain group,” Hickie said.
“It’s exciting and I look forward to working with colleagues from my side of the house, but the NDP side of the house as well in moving forward.”
Hickie hopes to hold meetings throughout the province to see what suggestions the public has to share regarding traffic safety.
In the meantime, he added, “If people would like to start putting down pen to paper and giving ideas, they’re more than welcome to send the information to my office or the minister’s office, as well.”
The province’s new legislative secretaries do not receive additional remuneration for their added duties, a government press release notes.
Saskatchewan’s 27th Legislature has been adjourned since Dec. 6, and is set to reconvene in Regina on March 4.