Seasonal safety

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 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 until 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.

And even though a local campaign was not launched this year, 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.

According to MADD Canada, in 2010, it was estimated that 2,541 individuals were killed in motor vehicle crashes in Canada.

MADD Canada also estimates that at a minimum, 1,082 of these fatalities were impairment-related. In their opinion, the 1,082 figure is a conservative estimate, due to the underreporting 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.

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).

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.

And if you see a driver you suspect is impaired, call 911 to report it.

As Christmas and ultimately New Years approaches, 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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