Nov 06, 2015 - K-DIVISION HEAD RECALLS SISTER'S DEATH AT RED RIBBON CAMPAIGN SPEECH IN EDMONTON

Marianne Ryan, commanding officer RCMP 'K' Division, speaks about her sister who was lost to a drunk driver, during MADD Edmonton's launch of the annual Red Ribbon Campaign at City Hall in Edmonton, Alta., on Friday November 6, 2015. The organization encourages drivers to tie a red ribbon to their vehicle to show their commitment to drive safe and sober and to show their respect for those injured and killed by impaired drivers

Dealing with the tragedy of drunk driving is an occupational hazard for the RCMP. For Marianne Ryan, commanding officer of K-Division, it is a life-altering reality.

"Thirty-five years ago, when I was 20, I was at home and we got the typical notification," said Ryan, still moved to emotion by the memory of that night. "What I'll never forget was the scream that my mother let out that night upon hearing that my older sister had been killed by an impaired driver. So fast-forward, it has never left me and I don't think it ever will."

Ryan was just one of the speakers at the Friday launch of this year's Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) red ribbon campaign aimed at stopping impaired driving, particularly in the holiday season.

Ryan said it's not easy to see other families deal with what she experienced but hopes it can be stopped with a community effort.

"I don't really know what it will take to stop it but I know we have to keep trying," she said.

 

EPS Chief Rod Knecht holds a red ribbon during MADD Edmonton's launch of the annual Red Ribbon Campaign at City Hall in Edmonton, Alta., on Friday November 6, 2015. The organization encourages drivers to tie a red ribbon to their vehicle to show their commitment to drive safe and sober and to show their respect for those injured and killed by impaired drivers.

Edmonton Police Chief Rod Knecht said the "cavalier attitude" towards drunk driving has changed since he began his career but the numbers still continue to perplex him.

"Amazingly, this is a problem that isn't disappearing," Knecht said, adding this year alone 1,200 people have been charged with impaired driving in Edmonton. "I get so frustrated when I continue to see our numbers going up; 1,200 this year. I mean, really? Are you stupid? This is totally unnecessary."

He added the use of social media to avoid Check Stops is making enforcement harder but hopes more people can use the same technology to report impaired drivers, including through the city's Curb the Danger program.

Edmonton area police, ambulance and fire services will all have red ribbon magnets on their vehicles and MADD is hoping individuals will get their hands on a red ribbon to wear.

It's not all bad news. Ryan said the percentage of injury due to drunk driving has decreased in the past four years. That doesn't mean she's easing up on the message.

"We are starting to see that decrease, but you know what, one is too many," she said.

More information on the campaign can be found at MADD.ca.

Drunk driving numbers:

  • Impaired drivers charged so far in Edmonton in 2015: 1,200
  • Criminal convictions for impaired driving in Alberta between April 2009 and March 2014: 42,913
  • Total impaired driving arrests in Edmonton between 2006 and today: more than 19,000
  • Average number of impaired driving arrests per year since 2006: 1,998
  • Estimated cost of impaired driving incidents in 2010 in Canada: $20.62 billion

Source: Edmonton Sun


 

Last updated on: 2015-11-12 | Link to this post