AMHERST, N.S. – Those touched by impaired driving aren’t defined by social status, colour, ethnicity or religion. It touches people from all walks of life.
Law enforcement agencies and emergency services providers joined with members of the Cumberland-Tantramar Chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving to launch its annual Red Ribbon Campaign to memorialize those lost to impaired driving as well as those whose lives have been changed forever.
“For the past 31 years MADD Canada’s red ribbon has been a simple, yet powerful, symbol of the fight against impaired driving,” MADD Canada Atlantic region chapter services manager Susan MacAskill said during the launch of the two-month campaign to raise awareness about the cost of drinking and driving and drug impaired driving.
“Over the next two months, thousands of volunteers and our corporate sponsors will distribute millions of red ribbons across the country.”
Following the ceremony, that included the cutting of a red ribbon to launch the campaign, participants headed out to Robert Angus Drive and braved frigid temperatures to hand out red ribbons and information to motorists along one of Amherst’s busiest streets.
MacAskill said the campaign is held during the holiday season because it’s the busiest time on most people’s social calendar and the risk of impaired driving is high. The ribbon reminds people they have the power to prevent an impaired driving tragedy.
“Wearing this red ribbon is a symbol of one’s commitment to always drive sober. It sends a clear message to everyone that it is never OK to drive impaired by alcohol or other drugs,” she said. “We long for the day when that message won’t be needed anymore. Unfortunately, we’re not there yet.”
Every year between 1,250 and 1,500 people are killed and more than 63,000 injured in impairment-related crashes. On average, four people die every day in Canada and 175 are injured because of impaired driving.
“It’s still the Number 1 criminal cause of death in Canada,” she said.
Amherst’s Deputy Mayor Sheila Christie said everyone has a role in reducing impaired driving deaths and injuries.
“This campaign is a strong reminder to all that we can stop these tragic deaths, injuries and carnage during the holiday season and throughout the year,” Christie said.