Stony Plain Reporter
December 21, 2018

As we hit the heart of the holiday season with Christmas and New Year’s Eve, the absolute last thing anyone wants is for their night to end in tragedy.

In an effort to continue to hammer this message home Mothers Against Drunk Driving joined forces with first responders from around the Tri-Region in their annual Candy Cane Event on Monday for the twelfth year. They made stops at the Tri-Liesure Centre in Spruce Grove and outside Tim Hortons in Stony Plain, to hand out candy canes, window scrapers and ribbons adorning the MADD logo.

MADD Parkland president Brenda Johnson said they were aiming to hand out about 1,000 of each.

Part of the message this year is the mandatory breathalyzer test for every roadside stop, regardless of initial signs of impairment, that began on Tuesday.

“It’s going to make a real big difference on our roads,” said Johnson. “It has been proven statistically proven that it will save lives.”

The practice has been used in other countries like Australia where Johnson said they saw a 40 per cent reduction the occurrences of impaired driving.

According to MADD, every day there are four Canadians killed and 175 injured in impaired driving collisions. The statistics for Alberta get even more drastic, where on average one in five drivers involved in fatal collisions have been drinking prior to the collision. This compares to an average of about one in 20 drivers involved in injury collisions. As the severity of the collision increases, so does the likelihood the collision will involve a drinking driver. Between 2009 and 2013 the province averaged almost 90 deaths and 1,330 people injured in collisions involving at least one driver who had consumed alcohol prior to the crash.

During the holiday season, with people driving all over the countryside and going to and from parties, the potential for impaired driving increases.

MADD encourages anyone who does plan to be out and enjoying themselves this Christmas and New Year’s to do so responsible. If people plan to consume alcohol or cannabis, they need to plan ahead by bringing extra cash for a cab or Uber, take public transportation, or have a designated driver.

“Impairment is impairment behind the wheel, no matter if It is by drugs or alcohol,” said Johnson. “Our enforcement services here are well trained.”