Celebrating responsibly as the holiday season approaches

Red Deerians encouraged to plan ahead

As we near the beginning of December it’s the start of the season for celebrating – and that means inevitably a spike in partiers who have one drink too many and then decide they are then fit to drive.

Last month, MADD Canada launched their 29th 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. 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.

According to MADD Canada’s web site, “In 2010, it was estimated that 2,541 individuals were killed in motor vehicle crashes in Canada. MADD Canada estimates that at a minimum 1,082 of these fatalities were impairment-related. In MADD Canada’s opinion, the 1,082 figure is a conservative estimate, due to the under-reporting that results from the inability to conduct alcohol tests on surviving impaired drivers and from the need to rely on police reports. Moreover, the figure underestimates the percentage of crash deaths that involve drugs. Thus, the recent sharp increases in driving after drug use have not been factored into the 1,082 figure.

“As well, the 1,082 figure does not include individuals killed in impaired crashes on the waterways. It was estimated that there was an average of 135 boating deaths per year from 2006 to 2008 and it appears that more than 50 per cent of these boating deaths involved alcohol and/or drugs. Nor does the 1,082 figure include fatalities arising from aircraft, trains and industrial vehicles such as forklifts.

“Given the limits on the 1,082 figure, MADD Canada estimates there are somewhere between 1,250 and 1,500 impairment-related crash deaths in Canada each year (3.4 – 4.1 deaths per day).”

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.

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 encourage all Red Deerians to celebrate the holiday season in a responsible manner. Planning ahead in terms of how you’ll get to your destination safely will ensure our community continues to be a safe and happy place to live.

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