‘They loved their mommy so much’: Alberta sees increase in fatal collisions involving drugs, alcohol

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Alberta sees increase in fatal collisions involving drugs, alcohol
WATCH: The mother of an Alberta woman killed by an impaired driver is speaking out in an effort to raise awareness of the consequences of drunk driving. As Carolyn Kury de Castillo reports, there’s been an increase in the number of collisions on Alberta highways this year involving impairment – Nov 1, 2021

MADD Canada launched its national Project Red Ribbon campaign on Monday in Red Deer as Alberta RCMP statistics show that there has been an increase in the number of fatal collisions involving drugs and alcohol impairment this year.

Chloe Kaniusis’ sons were just a year and a half and four years old when their lives changed forever.

“That is the hardest part of it for me, is the boys,” said Kaniusis’ mother Brenda Brown.

Brown was driving home with Kaniusis, a Rocky Mountain House school teacher, in November 2014 near Eckville, west of Red Deer, when they were struck by an impaired driver.

“Chloe died instantly. I was pinned inside for three-and-a-half hours with Chloe before they got me out. It was horrific,” Brown said.

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The driver of the other vehicle also died.

Now, Brown is speaking out as the MADD Red Deer vice-president.

First responders joined Brown’s family on Monday as MADD Canada launched the Project Red Ribbon campaign to promote sober driving during the holiday season.

“It’s entirely preventable. I’ve talked to about 3,000 high school students since Chloe died. I get them right in the vehicle with me because that’s what needs to happen. They need to see and hear about the horror of it,” Brown said.

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In December 2020, new legislation went into effect in Alberta, meaning most first-time impaired drivers can now face up to $2,000 in fines and a 30-day vehicle seizure.

Police say being able to issue tickets on the spot and impound vehicles has freed up court time and police resources.

“It has definitely helped keep our officers on the road, so more officers on the road increases their ability to detect more impaired drivers,” said Sgt. Michael Zufferli with Red Deer RCMP traffic services.

RCMP said from January to the end of September 2021, there were 54 fatal collisions on Alberta highways where drugs or alcohol were involved.

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There were 34 for all of 2020.

According to MADD Canada’s new statistical report, in 2019, there was an increase in the rate of alcohol-related charges and short-term suspensions, which had been on the decline for several years.

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