Kelowna Kia Supports MADD
Don't drink and drive, it's that easy
by Carmen Weld - Central Okanagan - Story: 102808 Nov 16, 2013 / 2:30 pm
Mother's Against Drunk Driving, Central Okanagan Chapter, kicked off MADD Canada's Project Red Ribbon Campaign Saturday morning at Kelowna Kia.
"MADD has been running this campaign for 26 years. The campaign is getting people to put a red ribbon on their key chain, on their vehicle?anywhere that it can remind them and others how important it is to drive safe and sober," shared MADD Central Okanagan Vice President Jeff Robinson.
The red ribbon campaign is MADD Canada's largest and longest-running public awareness campaign. It's designed to combat impaired driving, especially during the holidays.
"The holiday season is upon us and that typically means our social calendars begin to swell with work and family celebrations. The increase in these festivities is a direct correlation to the incidents of impaired driving on our roadways and we will be stepping up enforcement for the coming months," warned new Kelowna RCMP Superintendent Nick Romanchuk.
From now through January 6, 2014 MADD will be distributing red ribbons throughout the community and asking residents to tie them to their vehicles, purses, briefcases, backpacks and even their car keys.
"Tie the ribbon on your keys, what a brilliant idea, because you have to grab those keys before you get in the car and that's your instant reminder right there, there is no excuse if you see that ribbon on your keys," suggested Kelowna Kia General Manager Makal Mann.
The red ribbon symbolizes a personal commitment to drive safe and sober this holiday season and through the entire year while reminding others to do the same.
Director of MADD Central Okanagan Eva Gainer has been personally impacted by someone's choice to get behind the wheel drunk and on drugs.
In 2000, a drunk driver killed her husband and her 11-year-old son. The drunk driver also did not survive. The crash gravely injured Gainer; she still has a massive scar and a metal plate remains in her arm.
Gainer suffered a closed-head injury, two collapsed lungs, about six broken ribs and a lacerated spleen; injuries she says were unbearably painful, but she would happily experience again to have her son and husband back.
The driver who killed her family had actually had his license suspended just two days before for impaired driving and still chose to get on the highway impaired.
September 2013 would have been Bryan Gainer's 25th birthday and like every year his mom puts an obituary in the paper, this year's read like this:
Always alive in our hearts, Bryan you are forever loved and missed by Mom (Eva), James (brother) and Candace (sister in-law), Sara (sister) and John, and brand new nephew "Carter Bryan" *Please Don't Drink and Drive*
Kelowna Fire Chief Jeff Carlisle still vividly remembers the first time he witnessed an accident caused by a drunk driver.
"I remember as a 23-year-old firefighter my first fatality from a drunk driver and I will never forget it," he said through tears.
"In an average year 113 people die from accidents involving drinking and driving and it remains one of the top three contributing factors to fatal car crashes and it is not acceptable," said Carlisle.
Over the 26-years of MADD's campaign impaired driving has decreased across the country but progress in further reducing impaired driving has stalled for the last few years.
The City of Kelowna is working with MADD and the local RCMP to keep numbers down, instituting the RID 9-1-1 campaign this past Spring, which has shown to be successful.
RCMP say they have seen an eight per cent increase in calls reporting drunk drivers since the half a dozen signs were put up around the city.
"To me that means the community is becoming an invested partner in public safety," said Inspector Romanchuk.
Kelowna Mayor Walter Gray was also at the event.
"Its really too bad that we have to have events like this but society doesn't change quickly?I do see positive change coming and you are all apart of that so I thank you," added Gray.
Representing the Province was MLA Norm Letnick.
Letnick says since the provincial government instituted the lower 0.05 tolerance for drunk driving, lives have been saved.
"Between 140 - 150 lives have been spared because of the new laws, that's 140-150 families that have not been broken up," said Letnick.
MADD VP Robinson added that they don't want to ruin anyone's holiday fun, it's about ensuring people make the right choice.
"MADD is not against responsible drinking, but we are dead set against the harms of drinking and driving. Impaired driving is a senseless crime that kills too many Canadians every year."
Inspector Romanchuk had one final message to drivers.
"The thing that would make me happier than anything else, would be if none of my members ever again have to go knock on someone's door in the middle of the night and tell them they have lost a loved one due too drunk driving."
You can get your own MADD Canada red ribbon at Kelowna Kia, BC Liquor stores and several other supporting businesses listed here.