Mothers Against Drunk Driving Norfolk to host fundraising walk Saturday in Simcoe

Fifty years ago, if a partygoer got behind the wheel after downing a few drinks, few around him would bat an eye.

Today, many people would be quick to intervene and make sure that driver was fit to operate his vehicle before he was allowed to leave.

Fines and criminal penalties have increased for impaired driving. But Scott Pipe, a fire captain and Norfolk’s fire prevention officer, credits education campaigns led by Mothers Against Drunk Driving for helping change societal attitudes toward drinking and driving – and saving lives in the process.

“MADD has done a phenomenal job over the years of changing the perception and the public’s attitude toward drinking and driving,” he said. “There’s a reason why it’s not as accepted as it was years ago.”

Despite steep declines in impaired driving rates, there remains the need for continuous education so the next generation of drivers makes responsible choices, said Rob Clouston, community group leader of MADD Norfolk.

“All we can go by is the stats, and on average there are four people killed every day across Canada (in impaired driving crashes),” he said.

Clouston noted that there are more cars on the road, which could skew that statistic, but he said there is still a segment of the population that doesn’t get the message.

According to MADD, 190 Canadians are injured every day in impaired driving collisions, leading to much personal hardship for victims and families, as well as higher health care costs.

“Human nature is, we need reminders, we need guidance. That’s why MADD is here – we’re supporting the victims of drinking and driving, and we’re reminding people not to drink and drive. The education we do, sometimes it’s repetitive, but I think that repetition is important.”

To help the organization continue its education campaigns, provide services to victims and help victims and families navigate the court system, MADD Norfolk is hosting a fundraising five-kilometre walk called Strides for Change this Saturday, Sept. 19, at 10:30 a.m. at Lions Park (75 Davis St. E.) in Simcoe.

All funds raised stay local, and Clouston invites participants to pick up a sponsor sheet at the Simcoe OPP station or download a form from

Prior to the walk, some local actors and Norfolk’s emergency services will help MADD set up a mock car crash at 9 a.m. to illustrate the terrible potential consequences of impaired driving.

The mock collision, which Clouston stressed is not intended for young children due to graphic content, is targeted especially at teens and young drivers who might be confronted with the opportunity to get behind the wheel after drinking.

“That mock crash is going to show a clear picture of what can happen if you choose to drink and drive,” Clouston said.

While noting that firefighters, police and EMS respond to every call with the same level of professionalism, Pipe said drinking and driving calls are particularly frustrating to emergency personnel because the crashes are completely preventable.

“We deal with every situation exactly the same, but afterward, it affects you, because this is a situation that absolutely did not need to happen,” he said.

Clouston, a former OPP officer, agreed.

“I’ve had over 30 years of this, and I can still remember some of the calls I went to where people lost their life. It doesn’t leave you.”

He said MADD, emergency services and members of the community have a shared responsibility to prevent the tragedies that can result from the decision to drive while impaired by alcohol or drugs.

“This is really a group effort, a community effort, to stop drinking and driving.”

Source: Norfolk News

Last updated on: 2015-10-08 | Link to this post