MADD's Red Ribbon campaign raises awareness about drunk driving
'We've got to get behind this collectively as a community and just get this to stop'
Sadness. Anger. Bereavement.
Deep-rooted feelings familiar to families that have lost loved ones to drunks who make stupid and tragic decisions to get behind the wheel.
Mothers Against Drunk Drivers wants everyone to know about these nightmares, the lost lives that haunts families every day.
On Friday, MADD launched its annual Red Ribbon Campaign and new holiday campaign at city hall. The red ribbon program encourages motorists to tie ribbons to their vehicles to show their commitment to drive sober and safely. It's also a sign of respect for people killed or injured by impaired drivers.
The holiday campaign will feature Edmonton and area victims on billboards, buses and other places around the city. The words "Won't be home for the holidays" will boldly stand out on each billboard and poster.
In Edmonton so far this year 1,200 drunk drivers have been arrested, according to city police. Across Canada each day, 170 people are injured — and four are killed by drunk drivers.
RCMP K Division commanding officer Marianne Ryan remembers one terrible night.
"In the early morning hours of June 14, 1980, in a rural farmhouse in southwestern Ontario, the quiet tranquility of the night was shattered by a mother's scream.
"I will never forget the sound of that mother's scream, upon hearing the news that her 22-year-old daughter had been killed in a car accident by an impaired driver.
"That mother was my own. And the victim was my older sister, Nancy, who was tragically and senselessly taken from our family on that horrible night."
Ryan has experienced this gut-wrenching feeling too many times during her 33-year career.
Only last weekend, 14 people died on Alberta roads, and in some of the collisions impaired driving was a contributing factor.
Ryan can't understand why this grim scenario continues to destroy lives.
But police agencies working alongside MADD have made strides.
In 2010, impaired drivers accounted for 21.8 per cent of casualty collisions. The percentage dropped to 15.9 per cent in 2014.
Ryan said awareness and education, especially for children, are vital in the fight against impaired driving, as are diligence and an uncompromising attitude.
Police chief Rob Knecht is adamant about that mindset.
"We should get mad at those people who continue to think it's a right to drive drunk, because the impact is devastating for so many, many people year after year after year.
"We've got to get behind this collectively as a community and just get this to stop."