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MADD launches 2023 Red Ribbon Campaign

MADD Bay St. George and supporters cut the ribbon prior to the start of the parade. — Submitted photo

By Jaymie White Local Journalism Initiative Reporter BAY ST. GEORGE — On Saturday afternoon, Nov. 25, MADD Bay St. George held an event for the launch of the 2023 Red Ribbon Campaign. Julia Parsons, the chapter’s President, believes the event was a positive one. “Our Red Ribbon campaign launch took place on November 25th at 11:30 AM. The event started with a parade through town, then we decorated a tree at Keyin College with red ribbons, and ended with a flag raising at the town hall. Volunteers also set up a table at the Stephenville Mall, handing out red ribbons, providing free MADD merchandise, and accepting donations. This parade marked the beginning of a concerted effort to raise awareness about the dangers of impaired driving and to encourage everyone to make responsible choices during this holiday season,” said Parsons. “The event was a success, with a significant turnout from the community. Myself and all of the other volunteers were emotional realizing the number of community members that rallied around our chapter for this event and supported our mission. Looking around and seeing all the people and organizations that showed up was incredible. The turnout for this event demonstrates Bay St. George’s commitment to preventing impaired driving. The event fostered a sense of community, responsibility, and created a platform for open discussions about preventing impaired driving.” In addition to the public and volunteers, other non-profit organizations and some businesses showed up to lend their support and to help raise awareness. “We were delighted to see a significant number of community members attend the event. The strong turnout reflects the shared concern for road safety and the determination to stop impaired driving,” said Parsons. “The event featured a parade through Main Street as a statement to “choose your ride”, with representation from the Stephenville and Kippens Fire Departments, RCMP, Bay St. George and Barachois Search and Rescue (SAR), Russell’s Funeral Home, Eddy’s Towing, CNA, Marine Institute, King’s Cabs, local business owners, as well as MHAs Scott Reid and Tony Wakeham. Participants displayed red ribbons and MADD banners on their vehicles as a visible symbol of their commitment to preventing impaired driving. We then decorated a tree outside of Keyin College with red ribbons, where community members shared stories with one another of their experiences with impaired driving, and ended the event with a MADD flag raising at the Stephenville Town Hall.” The annual Red Ribbon Campaign is designed to educate and encourage responsible choices. “MADD Canada’s Project Red Ribbon campaign is a response to the devastating impact of drunk driving on Canadian communities, running from November 1 – January 8 annually,” said Parsons. “This campaign raises awareness of impaired driving during the holiday season when social calendars are typically busy, and the risk for impaired driving is high. The red ribbon serves as a symbol of remembrance for those who have lost their lives to impaired driving and as a commitment to preventing future tragedies by promoting responsible choices. Project Red Ribbon is crucial in highlighting the devastating consequences of impaired driving during the holiday season. By raising awareness, we aim to emphasize the importance of making responsible decisions, promoting sober driving, and ultimately preventing impaired driving incidents that lead to injuries and fatalities. It is important to bring awareness to the tragedy that can result from impaired driving and how preventable this can be.” Parsons said there was a sense of calmness and coming together among the attendees. “The atmosphere after the event was one of unity and shared purpose. Participants and attendees expressed a sense of accomplishment in collectively taking a stand against impaired driving, fostering optimism for positive change in our community,” said Parsons. “We hope attendees left the event with a heightened awareness of the critical importance of preventing impaired driving, during the holiday season and every day. The Red Ribbon campaign is a call to action for individuals to make responsible choices, ensuring the safety of themselves and others on the road.” According to MADD.ca, Canadians are still driving while impaired. “Despite federal and provincial/ territorial laws and penalties, police enforcement and awareness efforts, and despite the obvious risk of crash, death and injury, Canadians are still getting behind the wheel impaired. Every hour in Canada, an average of 10 federal criminal charges and provincial short-term licence suspensions are laid for alcohol or drug-impaired driving.” The Department of Digital Government and Service NL issued a news release regarding drunk driving in Newfoundland and Labrador. “According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), impaired driving is the number one criminal cause of death in Canada. An average of 10 federal criminal charges and provincial short-term licence suspensions are laid every hour for impaired driving. An average of 238 impaired driving charges and short-term suspensions are laid daily, and almost 87,000 annually. Last year, in Newfoundland and Labrador, there was a total of 377 impaired driving convictions. “It is the collective responsibility of all drivers to prevent serious injuries and deaths on our roads. Motorists have a responsibility to their fellow citizens to ensure they are operating vehicles in a safe manner. It is also important to keep the conversation going about ways to improve safety on provincial roadways. “Besides impairment due to alcohol or drugs; fatigue, distraction, even over-the-counter and prescription medications can all impact a motorist’s judgment, coordination, and reaction time behind the wheel. “The Provincial Government remains committed to enhancing road safety. Continuous improvement and updates to the Highway Traffic Act help reduce the number of traffic deaths and injuries to make roads safer.” While the event did kick off as the holiday approaches, impaired driving is not a seasonal problem, but rather a year round one. “I would like to emphasize the ongoing need for public support in the fight against impaired driving. Although the Red Ribbon campaign is targeted at the holiday season, MADD is a year-round initiative, and we encourage everyone to continue displaying red ribbons, spreading awareness, and actively participating in efforts to make our roads safer for all.

  1. Never drive impaired or ride with an impaired driver.

  2. Plan ahead if you’re going to be drinking or consuming cannabis or other drugs. Call an Uber or a cab, arrange a designated driver, take public transit or stay the night.

  3. Call 911 if you see a driver you suspect is impaired. Working together, we can prevent the tragic deaths and devastating injuries caused by impaired driving.”

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