Ali Mohammed Ali keeps an eye out for impaired drivers on his daily commute from Sarnia to London.

 It's instinct, given the years he spent as a driving instructor and his work as a volunteer with the Sarnia-Lambton Chapter of MADD, a non-profit group dedicated to stopping impaired driving and supporting its victims.

“I like to keep my car in a safe bubble,” Ali said.

That means staying alert and watching for signs of trouble, including vehicles swerving in their lane, drifting over to the shoulder or driving too fast.

“So many times I've called the emergency line for the police service to report a dangerous driver,” Ali said.

“It has to be done.”

Ali, a new member of the Canadian military working in London, has been named volunteer of the year by MADD's Sarnia-Lambton chapter.He joined the organization in 2014 after volunteering with the Canadian Red Cross.

Ali said his previous career as a driving instructor, both in England where he grew up, and in Canada, led him to approach the local MADD chapter.

“I've always had something special in my heart about volunteering,” he said.

“I thought that if I wanted to give back something related to my experience, MADD would be the best place to go.”

Since becoming involved, he has helped out with the annual Strides for Change walk and run fundraiser, set for May 15, 10 a.m., in Canatara Park.

Approximately 80 people participated last year, raising $9,100 for the work done by the chapter.

“Anyone who can walk, jog, run or go in a wheelchair, or walk with their dog is welcome,” Ali said.

The chapter's other community events include a white cross display each year during the Christmas season, a voluntary toll fund-raiser, and a candlelight vigil held to honour victims of impaired driving.

Not long after joining the chapter, Ali was named to its board.

“Because of my background as a driving instructor, I wanted to educate the public as much as I can about drinking and driving,” he said.

The chapter's board welcomed the idea and he began cold calling driving schools.

That led to a collaboration with one of the local driving schools, offering students the opportunity to use a computer driving simulator while wearing goggles that obscures their vision, so they “see the road through the eyes of an impaired driver,” Ali said.

“They start making all kinds of mistakes.”

He also uses the simulator in programs for school-age children.

“Those are our future drivers,” Ali said.

“The statistics are not promising. More and more young drivers are drinking and driving every day.”

Ali lived in London, England from 1993 until 2007, when he immigrated to Canada.

Born in Iraq, Ali was an infant when his family left.

“My father had to flee Iraq because he feared for his life, from the previous regime,” Ali said.

Ali and his family lived in a series of countries while working to rebuild their lives, and were able to settle in Britain in 1993.

His family lives there still, but his wife was born in Canada and they decided to make it their home, and the place they would raise their children.

An able seaman posted in London where he works in human relations, Ali said, “I enjoy my work here, I really love it.”

And he praised the work his fellow volunteers with the MADD chapter are doing to raise awareness about the impact of impaired driving, help its victims, and see an end to the crime.

“If I can actually save one life through MADD, that would be it for me,” Ali said.

“It would be enough.”

Source: The Observer


Last updated on: 2016-04-27 | Link to this post