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Red Ribbon sober driving campaign launches in West Vancouver

With Christmas just around the corner, MADD has launched its campaign to promote sober driving during the holiday season.

Eagle-eyed residents across the Lower Mainland and beyond may soon notice shiny red ribbons adorning the cars of locals, and the reason behind it extends far beyond just festive spirit.

The Red Ribbon campaign, run by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, launched in West Vancouver on Thursday with a ceremony led by MADD, the City of West Vancouver, West Vancouver Police and Uber.

The nationwide campaign, now in its 36th year, runs from Nov. 1 to Jan. 8 to raise awareness of the consequences of drunk driving at the busiest time of the year, as after-work drinks and social activities ramp up in the lead up to Christmas.

The purpose of the campaign is twofold, said Charlie Grahn, treasurer and board member of MADD Metro Vancouver.

“It is to remember past victims of impaired driving crashes in Canada, but it is also a memory aid to the citizens who are about to embark on the Christmas and holiday season,” he said.

In British Columbia alone, 4,000 people have died at the hands of impaired drivers since 1980.

“How many more are going to die in the years and decades ahead? If we don’t change the conduct of people, that number will surely double at some point in the future,” said Grahn.

“This is a problem we can solve, we just need to change people’s behaviour.”

The good news, said Grahn, is 95 percent of people are “already doing the right thing” 99 percent of the time. For the other 5 percent there are, unfortunately,”no words that we can say that will penetrate their conscience, and no laws or or social stigma that will cause them to re-examine their behaviour,” he said.

Grahn commended the work of the West Vancouver Police Department, public officials and first responders in removing the remaining five percent from the roads, adding how MADD has “saved the best till last” in regards to its implementation of the program in West Vancouver.

“West Vancouver is the No. 1 enforcement jurisdiction for impaired driving in Metro Vancouver,” he said.

District of West Vancouver Coun. Linda Watt, standing in for Mayor Mark Sager, said it was imperative to “get the message out” during the holiday season.

With ride-sharing apps like Uber and public transport options in the area set to increase over the coming years, alongside the raised awareness through the Red Ribbon campaign, Watt said she believes the number will decrease, and “ideally be eliminated.”

Michael van Hemmen, the general manager of Canada mobility for Uber, said he wanted locals to “attend parties, of course” and enjoy all the frivolity of the festive season, but to plan ahead for a sober ride home by taking an Uber or a taxi, take public transit, arranging a designated driver, or spending the night.

Mina Kerr-Lazenby is the North Shore News’ Indigenous and civic affairs reporter. This reporting beat is made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.