Holiday party planning needs to include getting home safely to avoid the tragedy of impaired driving.
“It’s not complicated,” said Mary Parkes, a board member with Mothers Against Drunk Driving Sarnia-Lambton.
Before people leave home for a festive celebration they need to think about getting home safely.
After drinking alcohol people without a plan think to themselves: “I feel fine”, and get behind the wheel, said Parkes, who has served as a designated driver.
She lost a son to drinking and driving 19 years ago, on Nov. 7.
Mike Parkes and his real estate partner Gary Abbey were killed when the vehicle they were in collided with another in the intersection of Michigan Avenue and Modeland Road. Their colleague, who was driving the vehicle, had a blood alcohol level that was twice the legal limit.
On Saturday, Mary Parkes was among the MADD volunteers planting white wooden crosses on the lawn of the OPP detachment headquarters in Petrolia.
Each cross represents a person who will be among the tragic total of deaths across Canada during the coming festive season.
Across the OPP West Region that includes Lambton County, 429 people died in traffic collisions that were preventable, between 2011 and 2015. Those fatal collisions involved drugs or alcohol, speeding, inattentive driving or not using seatbelts.
“It’s time to impress upon people the totally preventable loss of lives,” Parkes said.
With the busy holiday season ahead people need to be aware of how many people have suffered due to drinking and driving, said MADD local Jason Killingsworth as he prepared to plant crosses.
Raising awareness is the issue, added Claire Vanderheide, 17.
While drinking and driving is a concern, so is drug use and driving.
“It’s scary,” said Parkes.
So far there is no drug-testing device like a breathalyser.
There are a few drug recognition officers who are among local police departments but many officers are trained and equipped with roadside devices to measure blood-alcohol levels.
Such devices are the common tool used by police when they conduct RIDE checks.
It is against the law to refuse a roadside breath demand.
Source: The Sarnia Observer