Think and drive, don’t drink and drive

  • Oct. 3, 2012 3:07 p.m.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving Canada recently conducted a school assembly at St. Francis of Assisi Middle School in Red Deer. The program, which included a film called Long Weekend, ensured that the staff and students were aware of the dangers of impaired driving and helped empower and motivate them to prevent this violent crime.

According to MADD Canada road crashes are still the leading cause of death among teenagers. They put this presentation together to educate students about making responsible decisions so that our community is safer.

Chaouki Hamka, the western Canada school outreach representative with MADD Canada led the assembly at St. Francis of Assisi and he left the students and teachers with some things to think about.

Hamka reminded everyone that when it comes to impaired driving it is not just dangerous to get behind the wheel of a car—it is important to stay away from any motorized equipment including things like boats, motorcycles, forklifts and even zambonis. The message was anything with a motor is dangerous to operate if drugs or alcohol impairs you.

“[Drunk driving] is preventable,” said Hamka. “That word, preventable, is so powerful because it really is. Just don’t do it.”

There are many alternatives to driving drunk or riding with someone who has been drinking and Hamka mentioned a few.

“Call a cab, stay at a friend’s house, have a designated driver, walk home safely or call your parents.”

Hamka also relayed the importance of being a responsible citizen and calling the police when someone does choose to drive while under the influence. Report to them that you know of a suspected drunk driver, he said.

“Give them a license plate, make and model of the car, colour of the car, direction it is going in and as much information as possible that you can provide for the phone dispatcher.”

“You have to do what a good citizen would do—call 9-1-1. It is your life, your family’s life and your friend’s life you could save.”

Delivered to Canadian schools since 1994, MADD Canada’s School Assembly Program presents students with information to help them understand the issue of impaired driving from alcohol and drugs.

A new show is produced each year to reach out to young people and talk about a variety of issues and misperceptions they may be dealing with, including binge drinking, the realities about impairment caused by smoking cannabis, mixing cannabis and alcohol and accepting rides from alcohol and drug impaired drivers.

In the 2012-2013 program Long Weekend, viewers join Brian, his brother Malcolm, girlfriend Jessica and best friend Raj on a trip to the cottage.

The weekend takes a horrific turn when an impaired Brian drives into town with Jessica. The fictional story is followed by the true stories of families who faced the nightmare of losing loved ones to impaired driving crashes.

MADD Canada estimates there are somewhere between 1,250 and 1,500 impairment-related crash deaths in Canada each year.