The Kimberley-Cranbrook Chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) kicked off its annual Project Red Ribbon campaign on Monday, Nov. 3, with a ribbon cutting at City Hall.
Project Red Ribbon is MADD Canada’s largest and longest-running public awareness campaign, is designed to combat impaired driving during the holidays. It runs from Nov. 3 through the first Monday after New Year’s (January 5).
Katryna Sigurdson, MADD Community leader for Kimberley and Cranbrook, presided over the event at City Hall. She said that every day, on average, four Canadians are killed and 207 more are injured due to alcohol and drug-related crashes. With the involvement of local businesses, the campaign is asking residents of Cranbrook to tie a MADD Canada red ribbon to their antenna, side mirror or other visible location on the vehicle and/or on their keychain.
“It is our hope that the red ribbon will remind people not to drive impaired, not to get in a vehicle with an impaired driver, and to report impaired drivers,” Sigurdson said.
Cpl. Shayne Parker of the Cranbrook RCMP said that across B.C. and Canada, the RCMP runs campaigns to combat impaired driving.
“It’s one of our focusses,” Parker said. “And now that we’re approaching the holiday season we’ll be stepping it up.”
In his remarks, Cranbrook Mayor Wayne Stetski said MADD has been a major force for many years in bringing awareness to the problem of drunk driving.
“We are pleased to be flying the red ribbons from our City vehicles,” he said.
Stetski added that recent crime statistics compiled by the RCMP revealed an interesting trend — perhaps a disturbing trend. Crime in every category is down locally, he noted, except in the area of impaired driving.
The were seven total impaired driving charges and refusal charges in 2013, and 13 such charges in 2014 (an increase of 85.7 per cent). There were 47 Immediate Roadside Prohibitions (IRPs — a 90 day suspension) in 2013, and 62 in 2014 (an increase of 31.9 per cent). The totals of both combined were up 38.9 per cent.
The statistics beg the question if the trend is because of more impaired drivers on the roads, or the result of more police enforcement. Cpl. Parker said there could be no definite answer; however, the implementation of the IRPs had freed up much patrol time for police officers, and across B.C., statistics showed that injuries and fatalities as the result of impaired driving were down.
At Monday’s ceremony, a new official sign calling on citizens to report impaired drivers was unveiled. Also on display was the Memorial Wall, featuring a collage of faces of Canadians who had been killed as a result of impaired driving. 40 of those dozens of faces were people from the East Kootenay area.
Sigurdson, Parker and Stetski cut the ribbon declaring the campaign underway.
Project Red Ribbon was to be launched in Kimberley later Monday.
MADD Canada red ribbons are available at City Hall and Bridge Interiors. For more information, visit www.madd.ca or contact Katryna Sigurdson at 1-800-665-6233 ext 301 or firstname.lastname@example.org.