Chaouki Hamka

MADD Canada launches “Project Red Ribbon,” continues to urge drivers not to drive impaired

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

MADD Canada has hit a milestone that they wish didn’t have to occur in the first place.

MADD Canada recently launched its 30th annual campaign known as “Project Red Ribbon” in which ribbons are sold and many tied to vehicles as a way to pay tribute to those killed or injured in impaired driving crashes. The organization is also hopeful people remember not to drive impaired during and after the holiday season.

Chaouki Hamka, community leader with MADD Windsor-Essex County, said at a the launch of the campaign locally that it is vital to continue efforts to help keep impaired drivers off the road.

“Impaired driving is the number one criminal cause of death in Canada and it has been for a long time,” said Hamka. “It is 100 per cent preventable. Unfortunately, people are still making the wrong decision and getting behind the wheel when under the influence of drugs or alcohol or getting into a car with someone who is impaired.”

Hamka indicated that students in Grades 6-8 are starting to experiment with drugs and alcohol.

Police officers from multiple jurisdictions helped launch “Project Red Ribbon.” MADD Canada is encouraging people not to drive impaired this holiday season and beyond.

Hamka shared four tips to stay safe, including never driving while impaired by drugs or alcohol. He said marijuana can impair a person’s ability to drive the same way alcohol can.

Hamka also encouraged people never get into a vehicle with some who has been drinking or doing drugs. If a person plans on drinking or doing drugs, have a plan to get home safely. Hamka said he didn’t condone excessive drinking or drug use, but urged people to have a plan if they are still willing to do so.

“Step up and make a difference,” Hamka added, with that including not being silent and/or taking someone’s keys to keep them off the road.

The local Project Red Ribbon campaign kickoff included officers from Windsor, OPP, LaSalle and Amherstburg. Hamka thanked all for being there, noting that police “pick up the pieces of what’s left” after and impaired driving crash.

Four people are killed every day in Canada due to impaired driving crashes, Hamka said.

Party hosts New Year’s Eve are encouraged to:

  • Have lots of food and non-alcohol/low alcohol beverages available. Party hosts looking to add non-alcoholic beverage options to their menu can check out MADD Canada sponsor Hill Street Beverage Company and their alcohol-free beer, wine, champagne and mocktails.
  • Serve drinks yourself so you can monitor how much your guests are drinking.
  • Don’t serve alcohol to anyone who is intoxicated.
  • Know how your guests are getting home and who is driving.
  • Use the Uber app or have numbers available for taxi companies.
  • Be prepared to have intoxicated guests spend the night.
  • Stop serving alcohol long before you expect the party to break up.

Allstate Insurance has partnered with MADD and Sheila Davis of Allstate Insurance said the 30 years is a bittersweet anniversary for them.

“Both organizations wish drinking and driving is not a problem on our roads,” said Davis.

Davis encouraged the public to spread the word about Project Red Ribbon and to not get behind the wheel while impaired.

Staff Sgt. Sean Bender of Windsor police called impaired driving “an avoidable nightmare” and no police officer wants to deliver the difficult message to a family that their loved one won’t be coming home. OPP Staff Sgt. Brad Sakalo also said impaired driving is preventable and that people need to remember that any amount of alcohol or drug can impair someone’s ability to drive.

Const. Sean Gazdig represented the Amherstburg Police Service and said Amherstburg police supports keeping roads safe. Amherstburg police sends officers every year to the announcement as the service is in full support of keeping impaired drivers off the road.

“We’re committed to keeping the roads safe,” said Gazdig.