Forty years ago, Winnie MacDonald climbed into a car with a drunk driver.

At the age of three, the Pictou County woman didn’t know that her caregiver was under the influence of alcohol when she told her they were going to drive to a corner store to buy cigarettes, but it’s a moment she will never forget.

“When she was driving down the street, she hit some black ice because it was winter time, but she made a wide turn going around a corner and slid into a porch of somebody’s house,” said Winnie MacDonald. “All I remember from that accident is hitting the floor of the car. I blacked out and when I woke up, I remember seeing a whole bunch of men looking down at me and mom screaming my name.”

MacDonald said she has asked her parents about the incident over the years, but they never seemed to want to talk about it.

“It seems to me my mother carried a lot of guilt and dad did too,” she said.

Today, MacDonald has taken on the position of secretary for MADD Pictou County where she hears victim’s stories first hand and knows the impact that impaired driving has on a person and their family.

She didn’t join the group in 2010 because of her own situation, but because a friend had posted on the Internet that group was looking for new members.

“I got involved and as it went on, I went to conferences and ended up meeting so many people who lost loved ones and victims themselves that it really drew me in because it put a human element on it for me,” she said. “It put faces on victims. It’s not just an article you read in the paper or a picture you are looking at. These are real people.”

MacDonald said she also learned that there are a lot of misconceptions about MADD’s mandate.

“MADD’s mission is to stop impaired driving and support victims of crime,” she said, adding that many people think the group is against alcohol consumption. “The thing with impaired driving is that it is 100 per cent preventable because people make choices to get behind the wheel and drive. We are not saying don’t drink, but when you get behind the wheel of a motorized vehicle, it becomes a weapon and that it is a public safety issue.”

She said recent impaired driving statistics show there has been a decline in male numbers, but an increase in females who are getting behind a wheel drunk.

It also stated that four Canadians are killed and 196 accidents occur across the country every day by impaired driving. Over the course of a year, there are about 90,000 impaired driving crashes in Canada.

Public awareness plays a key part in MADD’s mandate to reduce these statistics which is why it hosts such events as its Red Ribbon campaign and a STRIDES walk, but there are many things it does behind the scenes as well.

It has resources available to help victims or family members of impaired driving crashes get through difficult periods of time in their life.

“We are committed to getting word out there and make sure any victim knows we are available for resources or the help,” she said. “We want them to know we are here. We do have a victim hotline on our website and we have a lot of resources and manuals. They can come to the meeting and know a lot of people are there in the same situation.”

MADD Pictou County meets the last Monday of each month at 6:30 p.m. It currently has 12 board members, but is always in need of new people.

She said people don’t have to be a victim of impaired driving to be part of the MADD association, but instead all a person needs is a concern for public safety.

Source: The News Nova Scotia


Last updated on: 2013-04-11 | Link to this post