EDMONTON – Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is continuing its crusade to remind people of the choices they make behind the wheel, by launching its annual Red Ribbon campaign.
Leila Moulder, with MADD Edmonton, says the ribbons serve as a tribute to all the lives that have been lost to impaired driving. The red ribbons are also meant to be a commitment that you won’t drive impaired, thus hopefully preventing further deaths.
“These ribbons are a visible reminder – you’ll see them everywhere – that there’s a choice. There is a choice to get in a cab, to take an alternate route home, just don’t get behind the wheel impaired,” she said.
The decision to drink and drive claims the lives of four people across the country every day, and leaves almost 200 injured.
“And it’s preventable. It’s a decision that someone makes that’s wrong, and it costs lives,” said Supt. Howard Eaton, in charge of Traffic Services for RCMP.
Taylor Duncan knows all too well the impact drinking and driving can have on loved ones left behind. Last year, she lost her boyfriend of two years; he was ran over by his boss in the parking lot of a southside pub after a night of drinking. The 21-year-old was killed instantly.
“Every day it’s a struggle. And I just don’t want people to go through what I go through,” Duncan said.
Police say there is less impaired driving now than there was years ago, thanks to education and tougher impaired driving laws passed in Alberta just last year. But progress seems to be slow.
“It would be nice to do a Checkstop and have no impaired drivers, but that hasn’t been the case yet,” said EPS Deputy Chief Brian Simpson.
“Over the last five years, you know, 43,111 impaired driving convictions in the province of Alberta,” he added. “Those numbers are staggering, and they’re way too high. But the problem with the numbers – they don’t speak to the families and the devastation that’s been caused.”
Aside from potentially killing or injuring someone, Simpson reminds people that there are many other consequences to drinking and drinking.
“You got the criminal charges, but at the backend, too, there’s insurance rates, the ability to get your license, the ability to get employment. It has a big impact on the individual that makes the wrong choice.”
So MADD and law enforcement continue to drive home their message. They encourage people to have a plan before going out and drinking – one that could perhaps include leaving your car at home, calling a cab, or having a designated driver.
“There’s a lot of options out there…you don’t need to drive,” Simpson said. “At the end of the day, the best opportunity is for individuals to make the right choices. So these programs that are reminding help, absolutely, but it’s up to the individual to make a personal choice. And everybody has that ability.”
MADD’s red ribbons can found at various locations around the city. If you’re not able to find one or want them for your office, you can call MADD Edmonton directly at (780) 488-6233.
With files from Ross Neitz, Global News