Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) launches annual Red Ribbon campaign



By Ron Giofu


As a way to prevent people from driving while impaired as the holiday season approaches, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Windsor-Essex County launched a familiar campaign.

Project Red Ribbon was kicked off last Thursday at Catholic Central High School in Windsor though representatives from area police forces, including Amherstburg, were on hand. Chaoki Hamka, community leader with MADD Windsor-Essex County, noted it was the 31st year for the campaign.

“When you live by the ribbon, you are making the commitment to drive sober,” he said.

Police forces from across Windsor-Essex County were represented at the recent launch of MADD’s Project Red Ribbon campaign. Representing Amherstburg police were Const. Steve Owen, Const. Kim Rathbone and A/Staff Sgt. Matt Capel-Cure.

This year’s Project Red Ribbon launch comes with a twist, as this is the first year cannabis has been legal. He said it is just as dangerous to drive while high as it is to drive while intoxicated by alcohol.

Hamka said the red ribbons remind people that Canadians have the power to prevent impaired driving. He urged people not to get into a vehicle driven by someone who has been drinking or is under the influence of drugs and to report impaired driving to the police if a person knows it may be occurring.

“We just want people to be safe, plain and simple,” he said.

Hamka added that everyone must take action against impaired driving.

“This is a great opportunity to educate hundreds of students about the dangers and consequences of impaired driving,” said Hamka. “Young drivers are over-represented in road crashes for two primary reasons: inexperience and immaturity. Although young people are the least likely to drive impaired, the ones who do are at very high risk of collision.”

Project Red Ribbon helps keep the sober driving message top of mind during the busy holiday season. With parties and celebrations plentiful, the risk for impaired driving is high. From Nov. 1 through Jan. 7, MADD Canada Chapters and Community Leaders across Canada distribute millions of ribbons to Canadians to wear and display as a reminder to never drive impaired or ride with an impaired driver, plan ahead if you’re going to be drinking or consuming cannabis, or other drugs. People are also urged to call a cab, arrange a designated driver, take public transit or stay the night if they have been drinking.

The official ribbon cutting was held recently to launch the Project Red Ribbon campaign.

“Everyone has a role to play in keeping our roads safe,” said Hamka. “Please plan ahead for a safe and sober ride home if you’re going to be drinking or consuming cannabis. Driving impaired is never worth the risk.”

Sheila Davis from Allstate Insurance, one of the sponsors of Project Red Ribbon, said the ribbons are also a tribute to the thousands that have been killed in impaired driving crashes. Jennifer Reaume from Reaume Chev Olds in LaSalle, another sponsor, said they are happy to be part of the campaign in order to help keep people safe.

Staff Sgt. Sean Bender from Windsor police urged students and the community at large to “rely on each other” to ensure people stay safe and to keep them from driving impaired.

“There’s nothing worse than knocking on a door at 2 a.m. and telling the parents their child has passed away,” he said.

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