September 30, 2020
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD Canada) is a volunteer-driven, Registered Canadian Charitable Organization with a National Board of Directors that represent members from all across Canada. Their mission is to stop impaired driving and to support victims of this violent crime.
In the early 1980’s, Provincial anti-drinking and driving groups started to appear in Canada. These early pioneers were victims/survivors who wanted to educate the Canadian public about the human tragedies caused by impaired drivers. MADD Canada was formed in 1989 by concerned citizens who wanted to work towards stopping impaired driving and to support victims/survivors. These members work tirelessly to raise awareness about the devastating effects that drinking and driving can cause and to help make a difference in their communities by making their roads safer.
The MADD program in Saskatoon has a very strong partnership with Saskatoon Police and Staff Sergeant Devon Racicot (Traffic Section) who sits in on their MADD Meetings. On average once a month MADD Saskatoon gets invited to participate in an off road check stop.
Bonny Stevenson, MADD Saskatoon Chapter President, knows all too well what it feels like to be a part of this group having lost a son to an impaired driver in August of 2013. 17-year-old Quinn Stevenson was on his way to work at the Saskatoon Golf and Country Club one early morning when his vehicle was struck at the intersection of Circle Drive and College Avenue. He was pronounced dead on the scene.
“During these check stops, our involvement basically is thanking drivers for driving sober. For me, I hand them a card we created with Quinn’s picture and I tell them that ‘this is my son Quinn – he was 17 and killed by an impaired driver,’” said Stevenson. There is also information on the back of Quinn’s card about RIIDE which is a global local taxi app that provides a safe ride home. “We only talk to drivers who have been cleared by an officer. Some nights we hand out volunteer
information, red ribbons, bookmarks etc. I think people are surprised when they see us, and we hand them a picture of our loved one. I have seen tears and many tell me how sorry they are. So, I think, or I hope, that has an impact.”
Saskatoon Police Service unveiled a new mobile alcohol and drug testing unit on Thursday, September 10. The hope is to reduce and prevent impaired driving in the city. It was taken out for the first time on Friday, September 18 where some MADD members were able to be a part of.
“It will be great to make check stops more efficient as all testing can be done on site. It can also be a used as an educational tool. This is the vision of Staff Sergeant Patrick Barbar. Pat has worked tirelessly to stop impaired driving. It houses the Breathalyzer Unit and the New Draeger DrugTest 5000 device which tests for cocaine and THC. All processing can be done at the scene instead of going back to the police station. All documents will be completed on site including release documents and they then can release people at the scene to a sober caregiver,” stated Stevenson.
Another program Stevenson is involved in is a mobile sign placement called RID – Report Impaired Drivers. “These are mobile signs that encourage people to report anyone they suspect of being impaired by calling 911. On the 1st and the 15th of the month we get a list of locations from Saskatoon Police Service (SPS) where criminally charged impaired drivers were caught. We place these signs at that location where the sign states that a criminally charged driver was caught here. The signs we put out on the 1st are collected on the 15th. Unfortunately, the signs are going missing. If we put out 12, generally, we can only find 4. I have no idea what is happening to them or why in the world anyone would take them. I think it is a great program but may not be long term due to the cost of the signs.”
Stevenson has worked hard for the past seven years bringing awareness to the issue of drinking and driving. “Losing your 17 year old son to the stupidity of a person choosing to get behind the wheel changes how you see things. It is very simple; if you drink you don’t drive. Killing someone because you drove impaired is not an accident – it is a choice.”
“I don’t tell people Quinn was killed in a car accident; he was killed by an impaired driver, a driver that chose to get behind the wheel. We refuse to let people forget what a beautiful young man Quinn was or how he was killed. We speak to driver ed classes or, bottom line, any group or class that wants to hear Quinn’s Story. We usually do it in person but have gotten good at zoom now too.”
MADD Saskatoon is always in need of volunteers and you can find volunteer forms on their website at https://madd.ca under volunteering, or you can email Maddsaskatoon@gmail.com. If you ever want to learn more about Quinn Stevenson, or the work they do with his Trust go to https://sites.google.com/site/quinnbstevenson/
There were 21 impaired driving-related deaths and 332 injuries in Saskatchewan in 2019.