November 22, 2019
As bereaved mother Jennifer Neville-Lake huddled nearby with a strong showing of support around her, along with others who have lost loved ones, York Regional Police today launched its annual festive season RIDE campaign at a news conference in Vaughan.
The message from the local force and those in attendance was clear: Driving impaired is not an accident, it is a choice that has devastating consequences. And the public is encouraged to immediately report suspected impaired drivers by calling 911, as part of the Safe Roads, Your Call program.
So far this year, more than 5,000 people have called police to report suspected impaired drivers. But the force continues to see an increase in the number of impaired-related driving charges being laid each year: more than 1,500 so far in 2019, which is up by 100 over the same period last year.
“We take your call seriously and consider it a life-threatening crime in progress,” York Regional Police Deputy Chief Jim MacSween said. “It is a preventable crime and people continue to make poor choices. Arrange for a ride.”
The tragic death of Neville-Lake’s three children, Daniel, Harrison, Milly, and their grandfather, Gary Neville, on Sept. 27, 2015, at the hands of a now-convicted drunk driver, remains at the forefront of York police’s efforts to combat impaired driving.
“It’s really terrible and that’s why I’m here trying to stop this,” Neville-Lake told assembled media.
York Region resident Kim Rennie spoke about being nearly run off the road by the driver of a large truck in November 2017.
“He came up behind me at high speed and I could see that he was swerving,” she said.
Rennie called 911 and followed the driver, providing police with updates. The driver was later charged with impaired and sentenced to a 12-month driving prohibition and $1,800 fine. Rennie also testified in court.
“The idea of testifying was scary, I must admit. But what scared me more was the driver being on the road. I thought about my family being on the road that day, and it was the right thing to do,” she said. “I’d never been a witness to anything before and I was nervous. But the officers backed me 100 per cent and supported me throughout the process.”
MADD Canada past-president Kathy Mitchell pulls no punches about the “staggering (drunk driving) statistics that have not changed in eight years”.
“We need to understand that driving impaired is a devastating decision,” Mitchell said, adding that she lost her 23-year-old niece in a drunk driving collision.
If you see drunk driving or behaviours on the road that could jeopardize the safety of motorists and pedestrians, York police encourage you to call 911.
Deputy Chief MacSween also noted that dashcam video footage is an important piece of evidence in court.