Drinking and driving touches everyone

Darrell Cole
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AMHERST - Susan MacAskill remembers the day she got the call that still haunts here to this day.

Her father was returning from River Philip to his home in Hants County in August 1993 when his vehicle was struck head-on by an impaired driver near Masstown. He died 10 days later from his injures and MacAskill knew she had to do something to raise awareness about the real cost of drinking and driving.

"When my dad was killed because of someone else's irresponsible choices I knew I needed to try to do something to make a difference," said MacAskill, who works with MADD Canada's Atlantic office. "My father was a man of integrity, a good husband, a good father, a good grandfather and a good friend."

MacAskill said her father always taught her to make the most of her opportunities and she's looking forward to the day when they meet again so she can tell him she did everything she could to stop impaired driving.

MacAskill spoke Wednesday as MADD Canada's Bordertown Chapter kicked off Project Red Ribbon in Cumberland County in conjunction with police in Amherst and Springhill, the RCMP, Wal-Mart and M&J Taxi.

"It's important that we get the message out there that even though it's the holidays you shouldn't get behind the wheel after a night of innocent fun involving alcohol or drugs," chapter president and ARHS student Nikita Holland said. "You can have a couple of drinks, but don't get behind the wheel of a vehicle or don't get into a vehicle with a driver who has been drinking."

Red ribbon boxes will be located at businesses throughout Cumberland County. Motorists can display the red ribbon as a sign of support for safe and sober driving during the holiday season and all year.

"The ribbons also serve as a memorial tribute to those who have been innocently injured or killed due to the actions of an impaired driver," MacAskill said.

Impaired driving is a complex problem and MADD Canada has taken a comprehensive approach to the issue of drinking and driving by working with communities to raise awareness, by assisting victims and their families and by taking an advocacy role in lobbying governments for stricter legislation such as lowering the blood alcohol level.

Despite the strides taken in recent years, impaired driving still remains the top criminal cause of death in Canada - three times higher than homicide.

"The reality is these senseless and needless deaths and injuries are 100 per cent preventable," MacAskill said.

She urged residents to not only tie a ribbon to their vehicle, but urged them to be extra vigilant by calling 911 when they see a suspected impaired driver.


Organizations: MADD Canada, RCMP, Wal-Mart

Geographic location: AMHERST, River Philip, Hants County Cumberland County Atlantic Canada

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Recent comments

  • Hannah
    February 24, 2010 - 23:46

    If someone is about to leave your house or the bar or where ever and you know they've been drinking, take them aside and ask them to stop.. if they refuse, tell them you will call the police and report them. It shouldn't have to come to this, people should be mature enough to know that drinking and driving is extremely dangerous, but unfortunately not everyone is mature enough and that makes it EVERYONES responsibility to keep the roads safe.

  • Ron
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    Good Point Troy. I bet if the cops hid around the corner, they could easily nab a few each night. Pretty sad.

  • Troy
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    What is truly amazing is looking at the parking lots of the local taverns on any givin friday or saturday night and they are full of cars,,and at 1am til 2 am they go empty,,and to think that most of the people driving the cars have been in the taverns drinking and they drive home ,,I mean they all can't have sober drivers with them. Scary thought for sure.

  • cryssy
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    The saddest stories that families share in their lifetime is the haunting death of their loved ones who were murdered, yes murdered, by a drunk, or high driver. These are 100% preventable deaths.
    My uncle who was 23 in 1978 was killed by a drunk driver and not instantly. In '78 you didn't need a seatbelt & when a drunk driver came around the corner and on the wrong side of the road, my young uncle hung on for an hour with the steering wheel crushed through his chest. Emergency responders stood by as my uncle died with only one memeber of his family being able to be by his side for his last few moments of life.
    My uncle came from a family of seventeen, so you can imagine the nieces & newphews this young man had. I am his niece & I was five years old at the time.
    I tried to crawl up in his coffin when he was layed out at the funeral home. I thought he was sleeping.
    The hardest part of losing my uncle was that he was such a special soul. All of his family & us younger kids absolutely loved him. He was so much fun - he sprayed us with water hoses; he played with all of us for endless hours & in an instant, he was taken away from us.
    It's thirty-one yrs. later & I still miss my uncle. I miss that he never had the chance to have a family of his own and to have shared in the years of memories that should have happened.
    The drunk driver incidentally, went on to hit a man & woman in a car about six months later. And six months probation is the only punishment this careless man had to pay.