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'Plan ahead': MADD launches sober driving campaign in advance of holiday season

More than 4,000 people have died because of impaired drivers in B.C. in the last 40 years
Charlie Grahn, treasurer and board member of MADD Metro Vancouver, launches the 25th annual Project Red Ribbon campaign in North Vancouver, Nov. 24, 2022.

If past trends hold true, seven British Columbians will not make home one night this holiday season, thanks to impaired drivers.

And in the last 40 years, more than 4,000 people have lost their lives in the province because someone was drunk or on drugs behind the wheel.

They’re stats MADD Metro Vancouver is hoping people will keep in mind when planning their holiday festivities.

“Impaired driving is the most prolific and stealthy serial killer in the history of our province,” Charlie Grahn, treasurer and board member of MADD Metro Vancouver, at the launch of the 25th annual Project Red Ribbon in North Vancouver on Thursday.

“The purpose of Project Red Ribbon is to impress upon the need to be vigilant and to stop the harm. The good news is that 95 per cent of the public will do the right thing 99 per cent of the time. And we want folks to do what they already know is right, which is to plan ahead. And if they see an impaired driver to call the police,” Grahn said.

Grahn expressed confidence in B.C.’s police to do their utmost when it comes to the remaining five per cent.

“We have the best laws. We have the best trained drug recognition expert police officers, we have a local lab, right here,” he said. “I know that they’re more energized to stop this carnage than they ever have been in the history of our province.”

Last year, North Vancouver RCMP logged more than 250 impaired driving investigations, including roadside prohibitions and criminal charges, according to the detachment. So far, they’ve done 40 impaired driving road blocks in 2022.

After 26 years in law enforcement, much of it dealing with fatal crashes, RCMP Insp. Jayson Lucash said too many people have been left with permanent trauma because of poor decisions.

“I’ve seen first-hand the devastation that impaired driving can cause. I’ve seen the grief and trauma that besets both the families of the innocent victims, as well as those who choose to drive under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or combination of both,” he said.

City of North Vancouver Mayor Linda Buchanan stressed that with a plethora of safe options for people to get home when they’ve been making rather merry over the holidays, there is no reason to put the public at risk.

“I ask that people across Metro Vancouver recommit themselves to public safety by driving only when sober. It’s the law, but it is the right thing to do,” she said. “The excuses for impaired driving are numerous. But quite frankly, the truth is there is no excuse that can undo the tragic and often fatal consequences of those decisions.”

Operation Red Nose, which deputizes volunteers as cab drivers for the holidays, is not returning to the North Shore this year. But the campaign comes as longtime North Shore taxi business Sunshine Cabs has announced it is returning to the North Shore after shutting down at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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