Brampton Guardian
November 30

By Patricia Hynes-Coates

While progress has been made over the years to reduce impaired driving, it continues to be a deadly problem on Canada’s roads. Every year, hundreds of people are killed and tens of thousands are injured in crashes involving alcohol, cannabis and/or other drugs.

My stepson Nicholas was one of those victims.

On a beautiful August morning in 2013, I got a phone call saying that Nicholas had been in a crash while riding his motorcycle to work. He died in hospital several hours later.

The driver of the pick-up truck that hit Nicholas had been drinking the night before and the morning of the crash. That driver could have called a cab. He could have called a friend. He could have stayed where he was. But he didn’t. He chose to get behind the wheel of his truck. And Nicholas is dead because of it.

As we head into the holiday season, it really is a mixture of happiness and sadness for my family and for so many others affected by this terrible crime. My family comes together to celebrate, to share and to laugh with one another. We also struggle with our grief that Nicholas is not here to join in the celebration.

That same struggle is experienced by so other victims and survivors who have lost loved ones or suffered injuries in alcohol and drug-related crashes that were completely, 100%, preventable.

Everyone has a role to play in keeping our roads safe from impaired driving this holiday season.

If you are going to be drinking, consuming cannabis or any other substance that impairs your ability to drive, plan ahead for a sober ride option. Call an Uber, take a cab, take public transportation or plan to stay over. Urge your family and friends to do the same.

If you see a driver you suspect is impaired, call 911 and alert police. The call you make could save a life.

Those messages are being shared this holiday season through MADD Canada’s Project Red Ribbon awareness campaign.

With the support of the public, our law enforcement partners, and Allstate Canada and other sponsors, MADD Canada Chapters and community leaders are spreading the sober driving message. They are distributing red ribbons and red ribbon car decals for the public to display as a symbol of their commitment to always drive sober. The ribbons also serve as a powerful tribute to the Canadians killed and injured in crashes involving alcohol and/or drugs each year.

My holiday wish for all Canadians is that no other families have to face the grief of an impaired driving crash.

Working together, we can prevent these tragedies. Make your commitment to safe and sober driving today.

Anyone who wishes to get a red ribbon can contact their local MADD Canada Chapter or community leader, visit the MADD Canada website at, or email

Patricia Hynes-Coates is the National President of MADD Canada.