From left, actors Nick James and Tino Notarianni, with MADD Canada CEO Andy Murie at the screening of MADD Canada’s new educational program, Smashed, at Silver City.


Don’t drink and drive. It’s a simple yet poignant message from Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Canada, but one that often goes unheeded.

The Oakville-based national grassroots organization says motor vehicle crashes is the leading cause of death among 15-25-year-olds. Alcohol is a factor in nearly 50 per cent of the accidents.

One of MADD Canada’s preventive measures against drinking and driving is education. Its 2013-14 School Assembly Program film Smashed, gives students a realistic look at how quickly impaired driving crashes can happen and the consequences.

Included is the 39-minute film depicting a fictional scenario involving high school students, drugs and drinking and driving.

The video concludes with real-life victims sharing their stories of personal loss.

While the film debuts in September, MADD Canada showed a sneak peek to cast and crew, sponsors, Halton police and EMS personnel at the Oakville SilverCity theatre recently.

“(Youths) still represent, unfortunately, one-third of the impaired driving deaths. (There are) too many deaths and too many young people making bad decisions when it comes to alcohol, drugs and driving,” said MADD Canada CEO Andrew Murie.

In 2008, 16-25-year-olds represented 13.7 per cent of the Canadian population, but accounted for nearly 33 per cent of all alcohol-related crash deaths, according to MADD Canada.

While the number of youth-impaired-related accidents is still high, Murie said, the numbers have dropped by about 125 per cent since its prevention campaigns started in 1980. At the time, about 70 per cent of teen deaths were from alcohol-related road crashes.

“We have made progress (with youths) and the adult population. Every one of these deaths is preventable. It didn’t have to happen.

“You didn’t have to get behind the wheel (or) you didn’t have to get into a car with a drinking driver,” said Murie.

Halton Regional Police Service Deputy Chief Bob Percy said one of its primary focuses is youth education and ensuring they make effective decisions. The partnership it has with MADD Canada is “ideal in spreading the message.”

“Any medium we can use to get the message out is fantastic. The reputation and awareness that MADD (Canada) has in the community is second to none,” said Percy.

Programs include B.R.A.V.O. (Building Respect And Values with Others), which helps with decision-making for Grade 6, 7 and 8 students, and the annual R.I.D.E. (Reduce Impaired Driving Everywhere) 101.

The latter is a three-phase program geared towards high school students about the risks of impaired driving. It includes on-campus demonstrations and displays, as well as driver spot checks and the use offatal vision goggles.

“By putting these goggles on, it simulates various levels of impairment. We challenge the students when they’ve got these goggles on to walk a straight line and see if they can keep themselves steady,” said Percy.

“Depending on the goggles ... it can mimic one, two, three or four drinks.”

Getting the message out

Halton police conducts the program close to Christmas and just before prom night to reinforce the message of “making good decisions before getting into a car as a driver or passenger,” Percy explained.

Murie noted between 1.5 million and 1.7 million Grades 7-12 students Canada-wide will watch the 2013-14 presentation.

Every three years MADD Canada evaluates the effectiveness of the School Assembly Program.

Results from a recent survey completed by 2,000 students will be released in September, Murie said.

“One of the most compelling results in previous years was that it had the biggest impact on people who had their driver’s licence less than a year,” said Murie.

Tino Notarianni, 24, who played Johnny in the film, said it was an incredible experience to work on set with other actors and the production team.

“I liked the idea of passing on a positive message to youths not to drive impaired. I hope it can impact some young lives,” said Notarianni.

“Call a cab. Call a friend who’s sober. Call a family member. Just don’t get behind the wheel (because) you can kill someone or yourself.”

One of the best things people can do to help police is to call 911 if they suspect a driver is impaired, Murie said.

“We have very active campaigns in this area and you see signs throughout. Encourage people to call because that one call can save a life or many lives.”

For more information on MADD, visit www.madd.ca.

Source: Halton.com


Last updated on: 2013-07-29 | Link to this post