December 21, 2018
Brighton – With consumption of recreational marijuana now being legal, it’s even more imperative that the public take to heart the message of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) to not drive while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
It’s counsel MADD delivers throughout the year but one that bears repeating during Christmas and New Year’s when revelry is at its highest, and people are apt to show poor judgment.
They need to do better than that, said Allen Magee, bylaw enforcement officer for Brighton who’s also the president of MADD’s Belleville chapter.
The greatest threat impaired driving poses is to kill or injure oneself or others but if that isn’t enough of a deterrent, there’s also the risk of being imprisoned, fined and paying higher insurance premiums, not to mention legal fees.
“We just want everybody to plan ahead when they travel through the holiday season, and year-round.”
– Deputy Fire Chief Jeff Ogden
“It’s a long-term cost for a short-term decision” ill advisedly made, Magee said.
He presented statistics available on MADD Canada’s website showing road crashes claimed an estimated 2,297 lives in Canada in 2014, 55 per cent of which were caused by individuals who tested positive for alcohol and/or drugs.
“We just want everybody to plan ahead when they travel through the holiday season, and year-round,” said Deputy Fire Chief Jeff Ogden of Brighton Fire and Rescue. “There are lots of different options out there – taxis, Uber, friends. We just don’t want to see anybody hurt needlessly from … driving under the influence of anything.”
Firefighters are called out at all times throughout the year and sometimes it’s for fatal collisions.
“It’s a horrible thing,” Ogden said, “especially when somebody (was) under the influence that caused the accident.”
Driving impaired “has serious consequences and very high risks,” reiterated Const. Kimberly Johnston, media relations officer for Northumberland OPP.
“And you put everyone on our roads at risk as well,” including first responders attending the scene of a collision.
Unfortunately, “it’s a risk that people seem to be willing to take,” she added, noting the OPP laid 7,300 impair-related charges across the province from January to mid-November.
“Yes, the numbers seem a bit high but what would they be without the education and constant presence of police out on the roads?” Johnston said.
“You’ve got to be held accountable for your actions. If you’re drinking, what are you doing driving?”
Every year at this time the OPP addresses the problem by stepping up enforcement with its Festive RIDE program which runs from November to January.
Northumberland Paramedics Chief Bill Detlor said “there’s more focus” on impaired driving because of the holidays but the message “to make good choices” is repeated throughout the year.
“I like to believe that it has made a difference. I don’t think we’re seeing the numbers that we used to see but the problem remains that it does still exist, it’s still out there and it’s still taking lives.”
“Drinking and driving kills so we want to remind everyone to be safe,” Detlor said.