The busiest time of year can also be the most dangerous, making it important for everyone to play a role combatting impaired driving.
Mothers Against Drunk Driver’s [M.A.D.D.] Cumberland-Tantramar chapter launched its Red Ribbon Campaign Nov. 15, and in the process delivered a message that expands from drinking and driving and recognizes the impact legalized marijuana will have on road safety in the future.
“Our volunteers continue to impress upon the government on Nova Scotia the need to ensure roadways are protected from those who are impaired by drugs with the approaching legalization of marijuana in July 2018,” Susan MacAskill, chapter services manager for M.A.D.D.’s Atlantic Region said. “With the introduction of saliva testing roadside police can get those drivers off the roadway that are high on cannabis and other drugs.”
M.A.D.D. is lobbying for appropriate sentencing if a person is caught driving while impaired by drugs, and advocates for bill C-46 before Ottawa, a motion to amend the criminal code and Canada’s impaired driving laws.
Impaired driving, Cumberland-Tantramar president Shelley Pettigrew says, is the country’s leading cause of criminal death.
“Every year between 1,250 and 1,500 people are killed, and more than 63,00 are injured in impaired related crashes,” Pettigrew said. “These are senseless, needless deaths that are preventable.”
This year marks the 30th anniversary of M.A.D.D. Canada’s Red Ribbon Campaign. Over the next two months volunteers and sponsors will distribute the red ribbons to Canadians, asking them to display as reminders of the dangers of impaired driving.
“We do this during the holiday season because it is the most busiest time of year,” Pettigrew said. “Holiday gatherings, toasts and good cheer are common and the risk of impaired driving is high.”
The red ribbon, Pettigrew said, reminds Canadians it is never okay to drink and drive, or drive while impaired by drugs.
The campaign got underway this year with community partners meeting at the Amherst Police Department for a ribbon cutting ceremony, followed by the first of many awareness drives. Along with police, members of the Amherst Fire Department, M.A.D.D.’s Cumberland-Tantramar chapter and supporters conducted a roadside campaign on Robert Angus Drive.