MADD Canada’s Cumberland County Chapter celebrated its 10th anniversary earlier this week. Chapter members who gathered at the Cumberland RCMP detachment for share anniversary cake include: (from left) Const. Travise Dow of the Cumberland RCMP, MADD Canada’s Atlantic services manager Susan MacAskill, Louise Stillman, Shelley Pettigrew, Norma Jean Watts, Nancy Dobson, Sandra Wilson and Const. Tom Wood of the Amherst Police Department.

“I think we’ve had a lot of success getting our message out into the community, but there is still a lot of work that has to be done,” chapter member Louise Stillman said. “We still see a lot of people getting behind the wheel after having too much to drink and we’re still seeing a number of people continuing to drive after their licences have been suspended. It shows we have a long way to go.”

Shelley Pettigrew, who has been with the chapter since the beginning, said the group has created some excellent partnerships with the RCMP and municipal police departments in Amherst and Springhill as well as with Atlantic Kia and other sponsors.

It’s also working with the Students Against Destructive Decisions chapter at ARHS.

“We’re not a big chapter but we’re very active. I guess you’d say we’re small, but mighty,” Pettigrew said.

Formed following the deaths of Megan Patterson and Raymond Gilroy 10 years, the local MADD chapter has been very active in a number of programs including Project Red Ribbon, Campaign 911 and more recently the MADD Road Rally that not only serves as a fundraiser but continues to raise awareness about the dangers of impaired driving.

Susan MacAskill, MADD Canada’s Atlantic services manager, says the awareness message is continuing to get out there, but she said some people are continuing to take the risk.

“We know the incidence of impaired driving is still very high. The priority of police is to get impaired drivers off the road and as enforcement increases it translates into higher numbers of people who drink or do drugs and drive,” MacAskill said. “The statistics show there hasn’t been a decline in deaths and injuries in the last 12 years.”

MacAskill said MADD continues to work with government on tougher legislation for impaired drivers and increased resources for roadside screening for impairment by drugs. She said there are habitual impaired drivers out there, but said another issue is new drivers who pass the legal drinking age about the same time they new driver designation is taken off their licence.

MacAskill said recent changes to the graduated licence program should answer those concerns.

“There’s still work to be done. There has been significant change in education and awareness and the culture has changed that it’s unacceptable to drink and drive, but people still take risks,” she said. “One of the factors too is that people don’t understand that it takes time for alcohol to be processed by your system. You can’t speed that up. So people who are drinking until 2 a.m. on a Saturday night may get up on Sunday morning thinking they’re OK because they slept when in fact they’re still significantly impaired.”

Both Const. Travise Dow of the Cumberland RCMP and Const. Tom Wood of the Amherst  Police Department say they are continuing to see lots of impaired driving in their respective areas.

“Our officers are continuing their enforcement and they’re continuing to create files,” Dow said. “Programs like Campaign 911 are also helping with enforcement.”

Wood said there were impaired driving files created over the Halloween weekend.

MacAskill said there still isn’t enough deterrence and suggested police be given power to do random breath tests at the roadside. She said other industrialized countries allow it, but not in Canada.

She also pointed out that Nova Scotia, Ontario and New Brunswick are the only provinces that don’t have an impaired by drug driving prohibition program.

Source: Cumberland News Now


Last updated on: 2014-11-12 | Link to this post