November 7, 2015

Emergency services personnel are changing the language used to describe motor vehicle incidents involving drunk drivers.

“It’s no longer considered an ‘accident’,” said Nathan Best, a Whitehorse paramedic. He said during his career, the term “motor vehicle accidents” has been replaced by “motor vehicle incidents.”

That was backed up by Peter Clark, chief superintendent for Yukon RCMP. “As a community, and as a culture, we need to start recognizing these are preventable events, they are not accidental. They are the result of people who make bad choices.”

Best and Clark were among the speakers at a Mothers Against Drunk Driving event held Friday in Whitehorse to highlight the organization’s Red Ribbon campaign. Ribbons are worn to represent a pledge to drive sober.

Councillor Jessi Dawson of Kwanlin Dün First Nation said her community was rattled by a near miss earlier this year.

“A drunk driver sped through our community, knocking out two electrical poles, narrowly missing the fence at the daycare,” Dawson said.

According to Statistics Canada, Yukon has the second-highest rate of impaired driving in Canada after the Northwest Territories, but one paramedic said he sees signs of progress.

“The messaging that’s going out to the youth is being heard,” said Jon Trefry. “I have gone to situations and calls where there’s an incident going on, or an argument, where teenagers will not get into the vehicle with this drunk or … substance-impaired person.”

Yukoners can expect to see more checkstops on the roads in coming weeks.