With the faces of the three Neville-Lake children and their grieving parents all over the news since the youngsters and their grandfather were killed in an alleged drunk driving collision in Vaughan in September, MADD York Region president Kathy Mitchell had hoped this would be the holiday season motorists would not drive impaired.

But RIDE statistics released this week from York Regional Police and the Ontario Provincial Police indicate many people continue to get behind the wheel after consuming alcohol or drugs.

In fact, York Regional Police officers arrested more than 2-1/2 times the number of allegedly impaired drivers during the 2015 holiday campaign than they did during the 2013 campaign.

Mitchell, whose 23-year-old niece, Ashley Fogal, of Sharon, was killed in a drunk driving collision Aug. 11, 2011 on her way to a concert at Casino Rama, is shocked and disappointed.

‘I wish I had an answer.’

“I honestly don’t know what to say. You would honestly hope people would get the message after hearing that horrific story (about the Neville-Lake family), seeing (the children’s parents) Jennifer and Ed on the news and speaking about their family and what they’re going through,” she said.

“It’s been constant. It’s been in the forefront since September and you would think that with that being continuously in the news and being out there, people would recognize it. But they’re just not. I wish I had an answer. I wish I had a way to prevent these people from making the choices they’re making because it absolutely destroys lives.”

York Regional Police arrested 168 drivers for alcohol and drug-related offences and issued an additional 77 three-day licence suspensions during the 2015 holiday RIDE campaign, which began Nov. 17 and wrapped up at New Year’s.

In 2013, police arrested 66 impaired drivers, Const. Laura Nicolle said.

“It’s definitely a shock. We’ve said it again and again and again and again, the fact that how impaired driving can cause such serious types of incidents,” she said, adding RIDE statistics were collected differently in 2014.

“The fact that (Neville-Lake fatal collision) occurred not that long ago, I can’t believe people don’t have that in their mind right away. I can’t believe that people don’t think of that and make other arrangements beforehand.”

Police don’t know if charges went up from 2013 to 2015 because there were more impaired drivers on the roads this past holiday season or because more are getting caught, Nicolle said.

Almost half of the 2015 arrests resulted from the public contacting police to report motorists suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, she said.

Residents are urged to call 911 if they believe a driver is impaired. The #ImTHATPerson campaign also encourages people to speak out against impaired driving.

Meanwhile, the OPP charged 21 people with impaired driving and handed out another eight roadside driving suspensions on highways 400 and 404 in York Region alone during the Festive RIDE campaign, Sgt. Kerry Schmidt said. On OPP-patrolled roads in the Greater Toronto Area, the force charged 125 motorists with driving impaired by alcohol or drugs and suspended the licences of another 76 drivers during its Nov. 23 to Jan. 2 campaign, he said.

While the provincial numbers are down slightly over last year, the OPP is frustrated to see so many impaired people getting behind the wheel, Schmidt said.

“It’s discouraging to see so many people still driving impaired. It’s one of the leading causes of death we see consistently across the province. Forty-two people (on OPP-patrolled roads) lost their lives last year to impaired driving and every one of those was preventable,” he said.

“There is no excuse for that and we have zero tolerance and we will continue to look and stop and take these impaired drivers off the highways, with the help of the public as well.”

Schmidt doesn’t understand why some drivers continue to drive impaired, especially after learning of horrific incidents, including a New Year’s Day alleged impaired driving collision near Saskatoon, that killed two parents and their two young children.

“You would wish and hope people would learn from other people’s mistakes and learn from them but it seems these drivers continue to think they are better than anybody else, they are able to handle their booze, that the alcohol doesn’t affect them the way it may affect somebody else,” he said.

“That’s from drinking. Your mind becomes impaired and you are not able to make responsible decisions that you would if you were not drinking, if you were sober. That’s the problem. It comes down to everybody realizing they have to take responsibility for themselves and they will be accountable and we will hold them accountable when we stop them.”

Source: Metroland News


Last updated on: 2016-01-29 | Link to this post