Each year the Ontario Provincial Police launch their Festive RIDE (Reduce Impaired Driving Everywhere) program to remind drivers to avoid the temptation that becomes stronger during the holiday season: the temptation to drive under the influence. From now until January 2nd, officers will be out on the road with a mission: find and apprehend drunk and drugged drivers.
For some – those who never drink and drive – the news of the program isn’t important. But for some, it’s especially poignant. In 1999 a four-car collision on Highway 7 in Ontario killed five young people. The driver who caused the crash had been smoking marijuana.
Last week the mother and brother of one of the victims, a boy named David Rider from Kanata, were out launching this year’s RIDE program. Their message: plan ahead, so what happened to their beloved David won’t happen to you.
One can break down “plan ahead” into a few steps:
- If you’re going out drinking, or having a celebration with friends and family, stop and think: how am I getting home?
- Is there a designated driver I can depend on. If so, arrange for the ride beforehand.
- If no designated driver is around, is there access to public transport or a taxi?
- If so, is it possible to take that to the gathering as well, so there’s no issue with leaving a car overnight?
- Is there anyone else you can help get home safely?
That’s really all it takes – it’s not a lot of planning, but if everyone did it, there would be no more alcohol-related collisions.
“So far this year the OPP have laid over 6000 alcohol and drug impaired driving charges,” says OPP Acting Commissioner and Provincial Commander of Traffic Safety & Operational Support Brad Blair. “This is an unbelievable statistic.”
It’s too late for David Rider and his friends, but it’s not too late for you. Acting Commissioner Blair notes that the OPP will be out in force through the end of the year, and they’ll have personnel who are trained to detect drugs as well as alcohol. So be part of the solution, not the problem. Plan ahead, and stay safe for the remainder of 2015 and, of course, beyond.