Ottawa will get its first volunteer designated driver service to help people who have been drinking get home safe.
Operation Red Nose has operated in Gatineau for the last 30 years, serving the entire Ottawa-Gatineau region during the winter holiday season. The service has also been used across Canada.
There have been, on average, 50 to 80 teams of three volunteers per night in Gatineau, according to the man behind Ottawa's new brigade.
But the high demand for service sparked David Van Vlaanderen's idea to start up an Ottawa team, which will run on weekends beginning Dec. 2 until the end of December.
"I'm hoping for possibly 100 calls per night but we'll likely get more," he predicted, hoping to assist the swamped Gatineau operation.
"If we can take some of the load off, we can actually get more calls and more volunteers out from both sides [of the Ottawa river]."
Operation hopes service reaches city limits
Operation Red Nose's teams of three work with one designated driver and an escort in a customer's car and someone driving a car that follows.
Vanvlaanderen said he hopes to start with 30 teams per night serving as far east as Rockland, as far south as Manotick and as far west as Stittsville.
The operating hours will be from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m., with volunteers either working four-hour shifts or all-night shifts.
"Impaired driving has touched many people in Ottawa, as it has across the country," Vanvlaanderen said. "I think there is that desire to be part of the solution. I know that is one of my motivations."
Ottawa police reported there were 748 charges laid in 2010 for driving under the influence. In 2009, there were 381 impaired-driving-related collisions injuring 175 people, including 22 seriously, and killing nine.
People interested in volunteering for Operation Red Nose can apply on its website, where there are full volunteer requirements, or at the Boys and Girls Club. Drivers must be at least 19 years old and have a full G license.
Volunteers also do not have to use their own vehicle but can volunteer the vehicle if they choose.