Chatham Daily News
November 6, 2020

MADD Canada’s Red Ribbon campaign has been a symbol of driving sober during the holiday season for over three decades.

Each year, MADD Canada launches the campaign to raise awareness about the risks and consequences of impaired driving.

This year, members of the MADD Huron Bruce chapter met in Goderich to launch the 2020 Project Red Ribbon. The occasion marked its 25th year of preventing impaired driving.

Funds raised throughout the year by MADD Huron-Bruce go towards anything the community might need or the OPP need for educating residents. But because of the pandemic MADD has put a hold in-school fundraisers and educational programs.

Officially running from Nov. 1 until the start of January, the campaign encourages drivers to be responsible and safe.

“It’s to bring attention, it’s a way to start a conversation,” said Barb Rintoul, who is president of MADD Huron-Bruce.

“This is our 25th anniversary,” said Rintou. “It’s an awareness program for us and we are getting close to the Christmas and party season and it’s a way of reminding people to not drink and drive.”

A tribute to the people killed and injured in impairment-related crashes, the campaign grew from a single event to a nation-wide effort over the years.

Millions of red ribbons across Canada are distributed to the public to tie onto vehicles, key chains, purses, and backpacks as a commitment to driving sober.

Local campaign launches were hosted by MADD Canada’s chapters and community leaders, which included the Huron Bruce Chapter.

Local law enforcement officers joined MADD Huron Bruce board members at the Goderich Fire Hall last week to launch the local effort of the red ribbon campaign of driving sober and safe throughout the holiday season.

According to Huron OPP, officers prevent impaired driving through enforcement and educating the public in a multifaceted way. Huron OPP encourages drivers to make the right choice, and to not drink and drive.

Going through a ride check, it’s too late at that point and the Huron County OPP would like people to be smart about making decisions.

“We don’t know who we save, we just know who we don’t. We are just doing the best we can to keep it out in front with the public,” said Rintoul.

“I hope it [pandemic restrictions] does curtail it a bit. I hope that people will think twice about drinking and driving.”

In support of MADD the Huron OPP have the same values and goals of keeping people safe through the holiday season.

Sergeant Russ Nesbitt of the Huron OPP reiterates that driving sober is always the right choice and if choosing to drink, residents should have a plan for a safe ride home.

“The OPP will be out in full force this festive season doing R.I.D.E. checks looking for another not obeying the rules. Please drink responsibly and don’t be a statistic,” said Nesbitt.

Furthermore, he explains that with the pandemic there is a different environment and when choosing to attend social gatherings, he urges residents to follow public health guidelines.

“Keep to small gatherings, wear a mask or maintain a distance from others. Keep yourself and others safe from all risks this season, including COVID-19,” Nesbitt said.

“The OPP will be responding to any complaints relating to overcrowding and any COVID-19 concerns.”

Nesbitt says the OPP will also be actively patrolling all Huron County roads looking for anyone not obeying the rules.

Nesbitt added: “Road safety is a priority for us each festive season. Please make good choices. Safety first.”

Huron County resident can expect a higher presence of Huron OPP on the roads including ride checks, with the goal of preventing impaired driving.

Local law enforcement encourages residents to make a sober ride home a priority during holiday celebrations this season by a designated driver or calling a taxi.

“People’s live are important. Unfortunately you can’t change people – whether it’s not wearing a mask with COVID or whether it’s drinking and driving – they are going to do it,” said Rintoul, speaking about people making decisions regardless of the consequences.

“Maybe if they get caught, maybe that will wake them up.”

MADD Canada’s red ribbons and car decals are available through the MADD Canada website, Chapters and Community Leaders, and participating sponsor outlets. For more information visit www.Madd.ca

A donation to support Project Red Ribbon can be done online through the website, but calling 1-800-665-6233 or by texting “RIBBON” to 45678.

A monthly donation option is also available.