On Wednesday, November 1st, Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) launched their 36th Annual Red Ribbon Campaign, this to raise awareness of the dangers of driving impaired during the upcoming holiday season, when there are more festivities taking place, and more folks on the road.
The Red Ribbon Campaign runs from November 1st to the first Monday after New Year's, where red ribbons and decals are displayed as a symbol of that wearer's pledge to never drive under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. The campaign is also to honour the victims and survivors of impaired drivers.
Vicki Renwick is a spokesperson for MADD Canada. She says the Red Ribbon Campaign helps to keep the 'drive sober' message at the top of mind now during November and December.
The Renwick family shares this message with passion and a heavy heart, as it was only 8 years ago in October, when their beautiful daughter, Taylor, was killed on Hwy 2 in a head-on collision by an impaired driver just east of St. Claude. Taylor was only 20-years old and studying athletic therapy at the University of Manitoba. She was on her way home to Melita for Thanksgiving.
Vicki says before her daughter's crash, she knew the MADD program was out there and had heard about it through school presentations, but she wasn't familiar with the significance of it at the time. "It wasn't at the top of my mind, but after Taylor's crash, that's why we got involved," she shares. "I would like people to take something from this and not let it happen to another family. We don't want another family to go through what we do, and it's not just us, there are way too many families."
At MADD's launch in Winnipeg, Manitoba RCMP Commanding Officer Rob Hill shared that thus far this year there have been 495 charges under the Canadian Criminal Code for impaired driving and 870 immediate roadside suspensions in Manitoba jurisdictions.
And over the past 10 months, ninety-six people have been killed on Manitoba roadways. “We still have 2 months to go before the end of 2023, and these numbers are already too high,” said Hill.
"These numbers are way too high," says Renwick, "and it is something that is 100% preventable. That's the frustrating part. These people are being killed and injured, in most cases, because someone has made the decision to drive impaired."
Renwick adds the red ribbons also present as a reminder to other drivers not to drive impaired, to find another way home other than climbing behind the wheel when intoxicated.
"Personally, I would like to remind people, and I will remind them every day if I have to, that there is always another choice," shares Vicki Renwick. "I am not against drinking. If you want to drink that's a personal choice, and if you want to do drugs that a personal choice. But you don't have to drive. Take a bus. Take a taxi. Take an Uber. Call someone to come and pick you up. Stay overnight where you are. There are so many other options rather than getting behind the wheel of a vehicle."
Renwick also reminds folks to try and stop an impaired driver from climbing behind a wheel, and not to get in a vehicle with someone under the influence. If you are unable to stop someone who is intoxicated, then call 9-1-1 as you could save a life; the driver or potentially someone who is driving in the same proximity as that person and might be the next victim of that impaired driver.
"The Red Ribbon Campaign is a good way to remind people that impaired driving kills," she adds. "It's plain and simple. It kills."
Manitoba RCMP will be conducting increased patrols and sobriety checks on drivers during the holiday season.
The MADD Red Ribbons Campaign officially launched November 1st, however the ribbons will become available after Remembrance Day.
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