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Road safety: Lorne Greene on holiday driving hazards

With nearly 20 million cars and trucks on our roads, automobiles have become a fact of life for Canadians. But our reliance on them comes at a cost. Over the past 50 years nearly 200,000 Canadians have died in traffic accidents — more than were killed in both world wars combined. In addition, despite vastly improved safety measures automobile accidents continue to be a major cause of death of younger Canadians. CBC Archives takes a look at the long, slow road to improved traffic safety.

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At work, you crack open a bottle after the Christmas bonuses go out and have a drink or three with colleagues before driving home. After shopping, you stack up the parcels and stagger out into the parking lot with an obstructed view. Out in the car, it's a sleety night and your wipers are crusted with ice, but you drive on. These scenarios are all too plausible during the holiday season, and all can be deadly, as actor Lorne Greene cautions during Safe Driving Week in this 1956 CBC Radio clip.
• Born in Ottawa in 1915, Lorne Greene was the national news anchor at CBC during the Second World War. His booming voice and dramatic delivery while reading war news earned him the nickname "The Voice of Doom." • Before beginning to read one war update, Greene ad-libbed: "There's lots of news tonight and, for a change, most of it is good." The remark earned him a reprimand.

• Governments and police began to respond to the problem of holiday drinking and driving in the late 1970s with organized roadside spot checks. Known as RIDE (Reduce Impaired Driving Everywhere) in Ontario and Checkstop in Alberta, these programs are now common in every province. They involve nighttime roadblocks on highways and major streets from early December through New Year's Eve. Drivers pull over, answer a few questions about their drinking and, if officers' judgement warrants, blow into a breathalyzer to measure their blood alcohol level.

• Volunteers in Quebec City launched Opération Nez Rouge (Operation Red Nose) in 1984. Rather than calling a taxi, drivers who felt they'd had too much to drink could be driven home in their own cars by volunteers. The service has since spread to most other provinces. The ride home is free, although people are strongly encouraged to make a donation that goes to local youth organizations.

Medium: Radio
Program: Assignment
Broadcast Date: Dec. 6, 1956
Host: Bill McNeil
Narrator: Lorne Greene
Duration: 4:44
Photo: CBC Still Photo Collection

Last updated: December 17, 2012

Page consulted on April 17, 2014

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