Maple Creek News-Times
Saskatchewan has had some of the worst impaired driving numbers in Canada, said Saskatoon Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Canada chapter President Bonny Stevenson.
Impaired driving, whether that’s alcohol or cannabis-related, continues to be a preventable issue throughout the province and sadly coast-to-coast.
MADD, Stevenson noted, is there for victims. “Anyone can reach out to any one of us.”
“We will support the victim after an accident or a death,” said Stevenson, who is also a victim services volunteer. MADD has had a presence in Saskatoon for the past three years and there are many chapters in the province.
Stevenson lost her son Quinn in 2013. “There are a lot of things you don’t realize until you live it.” MADD wasn’t that active in Saskatchewan prior to Quinn being killed by an impaired driver.
“I found it important there’s a place for people to turn to. There’s just that comfort in talking to people you know have experienced that same tragedy. A lot of people can say to you they understand or they feel for you or they’re here for you or all those catchphrases. Everyone means it with their heart, but no one can truly understand until you’ve had an officer standing at your door telling you your 17-year-old son is deceased,” Stevenson described.
“You live through the court process of trying to get charges laid against an impaired driver and it’s a big process. There’s no doubt about it — there’s a lot of steps to juggle,” she added.
Since November, MADD Canada has been raising awareness through its Red Ribbon Campaign, which is also a fundraiser.
“We do hand out red ribbons. We ask people to use the red ribbon as a symbol they are committed to driving sober,” or to plan a safe ride home. People are asked to place the red ribbons on backpacks or other places on a vehicle, as a reminder.
“There’s red ribbon boxes people can get if they’re interested. You can put them out at your business. We fill them with red ribbons, there are window decals and there’s a little slot if you want to leave a donation,” noted Stevenson.
There will be a MADD Canada Red Ribbon Campaign box set up in the office at the Maple Creek News-Times, located at 116 Harder Street in Maple Creek.
“It’s a very simple campaign, but it runs right from November to January and I think it’s very impactful,” said Stevenson. Donations are also accepted online through MADD Canada or its chapters.
Another fantastic tool MADD Canada utilizes is through Smart Wheels, Stevenson pointed out. “It’s actually an RV bus that has been converted into a classroom. This classroom can be booked by any school. It is geared towards the age group of Grades 2 to 4.” Smart Wheels also features virtual reality goggles for students to experience what it’s like to be impaired. MADD Canada also offers a program for every age group in schools, as well.
According to Stevenson, one of the main messages for people to remember is PLAN A SAFE RIDE HOME.
“Mom and dad will not be angry if they get a call at 3 a.m. that you need a ride home. But the pain they’ll receive having an officer stand at the door telling them their son or daughter is deceased will not compare,” is what Bonny and her husband tell students when presenting at schools and through driver’s education classes.
So remember to call a parent, a friend, a cab, a ride-share service or walk.
“Always remember, make that plan before you leave the house. You don’t make the plan mid-evening,” said Stevenson. “Have a plan when you head out the door, if you’re planning to drink.”
Death by an impaired driver is not an accident, said Stevenson, and it’s a choice to get behind the wheel.