Celebrating responsibly

Tis the season for celebrating – and that means inevitably a spike in partiers who have one drink too many and then decide they are fit to drive.

Recently, MADD Canada launched the 25th annual Project Red Ribbon with the aim of preventing impaired driving this holiday season. It’s just in time for the annual slate of office parties, family get-togethers and other functions to serve as a reminder of the importance of not drinking and driving.

Project Red Ribbon runs through to the first Monday after New Year’s, during which time MADD Canada volunteers are out in their communities distributing red ribbons to the public to attach to their vehicles, key chains, purses, briefcases and backpacks. Over one million ribbons are distributed to Canadians during Project Red Ribbon.

The ribbon reminds people to plan ahead for a safe ride home if they’re going to be drinking. It also serves as a tribute to those who have been killed or injured in impairment-related crashes.

It’s frustrating that the numbers of reported impaired drivers are as high as they are, in spite of constant educational and awareness campaigns and the tireless efforts of MADD volunteers. For some reason, people still choose to get behind the wheel after they’ve been drinking assuming they are in complete control. The cost to such irresponsibility is staggering.

Every year, between 1,250 and 1,500 people are killed and more than 63,000 are injured as a result of impaired driving, officials say. Even with the recent toughening of provincial laws, including the lowering of the legal blood alcohol limit, these numbers aren’t decreasing significantly as would be hoped.

In 2009, the last year for which numbers are available, it was estimated that 2,575 individuals were killed in motor vehicle crashes in Canada. MADD Canada estimates that at a minimum 1,074 of these fatalities were impairment-related.

However, in MADD Canada’s opinion, the 1,074 figure is a conservative estimate, due to the underreporting that results from the inability to test surviving impaired drivers and from the need to rely on police reports.

Officials remind citizens to never drive impaired or ride with an impaired driver. And if you see a driver you suspect is impaired, call 911 to report it.

Meanwhile, to avoid potential tragedy, it’s as easy as simply planning ahead by arranging for a designated driver, calling a cab or ensuring you have someone you trust to pick you up when it’s time to head home.

We hope all Red Deerians take time to make plans and choose wisely this holiday season when it comes to alcohol consumption.

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