By Erika Mathieu
Sunny South News
With the holiday season now well underway, you may notice your social calendar has become a bit more robust. Although most people are itching to get back to normal after last year’s COVID Christmas, the risk for impaired driving remains high, particularly over the holidays. Mothers Against Drunk Driving’s, (MADD) Project Red Ribbon campaign runs from Nov. 1 to Jan. 3. The campaign reminds Canadians about the importance of always driving sober or planning ahead to ensure access to a sober ride home if alcohol, cannabis, or other drugs are being consumed.
During the Red Ribbon campaign, MADD volunteers across the country distribute thousands of red ribbons and red ribbon car decals in local communities to serve as a symbol of their commitment to always drive sober, and function as a symbolic acknowledgement of the thousands of Canadian impacted and killed in drug and alcohol-related crashes each year. Anita Huchala, president of MADD Lethbridge and area said, “on average four people are killed and 175 people are injured here in Canada, every single day, that’s an amazing and alarming statistic.”
“It was just so important for us to partner with the community peace officers, and the RCMP in Coaldale on Friday night, to just bring awareness to the dangers of impaired driving on our roadways,” she added.The Community Police Officers from Coaldale organized the candy cane check stop, which took place on Dec. 3 to continue to urge safe and sober driving. The event took place from 4:30-7:30 p.m. The parties involved were Coaldale municipal enforcement, as well as several members from the Coaldale RCMP, volunteers from the MADD Lethbridge chapter, and advocates from Lethbridge Corridor Victim services.
The campaign took place at the intersection of 20th Street and 21st Avenue, where the team issued 451 checks bags and handed out over 800 candy canes as well.
“It was a great turnout, and it was a good community event,” said Mike Numan, staff sergeant at the Coaldale RCMP detachment.
Although most people are aware of the extreme dangers of impaired driving, the statistics according to a report from 2019 reinforce just how widespread the issue continues to be.
“Approximately 10 impaired driving charges and license suspensions were laid every hour across Canada in 2019,” said Huchala. “When we break that daily rate of 238 impaired driving charges and short-term suspensions down, we are looking at an average of nearly 10 every hour.”
Although Numan said the candy cane check stop was “very well received” by community members, advocates from victim services, and representatives from MADD, they are urging people to only drive if sober or ensure they have arranged for a ride from a sober driver.
“Our main messages were, that we were partnering together with MADD to promote the importance of safe and sober driving during the holiday season and really all the time all year,” said Numan.