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Project Red Ribbon a reminder that impaired driving is 100 percent preventable

'I want to see a future without impaired driving' Erin Celebre, President of MADD Nipissing

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.

A pull-up screen used as a backdrop for MADD Nipissing’s launch of this year’s Project Red Ribbon campaign is a collage comprised of victims of drunk driving.

Looking at the smiling faces on MADD's Memorial Wall honouring and remembering all impaired driving victims and survivors, it is staggering to think just how many lives have been impacted by someone making the wrong choice.

How many more faces will be added to the list this year alone?.

Among the thousands of pictures are people from the North Bay area, including John Commanda who was killed by an impaired driver, and the McLeod family who sustained serious injuries due to an impaired driver. Jackie McLeod would eventually go on to become the president of MADD Nipissing.

"Drive sober for your own safety, and the safety of others."

That is the message not only throughout the year but especially during the holiday season from the president of the Nipissing chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

The recent legalization of marijuana has added to MADD’s concerns about the state of drivers on the road.

“With it being so new, we want to really reinforce the importance of being sober regardless of what your choice is, alcohol or drugs,” said Erin Celebre, President of MADD Nipissing.

OPP Constable Shona Camirand warns motorists that police will have an increased presence over the holidays, as they continue to crack down on impaired drivers.

“We have drug recognition officers and standard field sobriety test officers ready to go at all hours of the day,” said Camirand.

“We do RIDE stops all day long. We get a lot of traffic complaints which leads to impaired driving arrests, motor vehicle collisions, and traffic stops. We’re encouraging people to call 9-1-1 if they think they’re following an impaired driver.”    

Police point out that there are always choices when it comes to arriving home safely after a day or night of partying.

“You can stay overnight, drink at home, take a cab, call your parents, call somebody for a ride. There are so many different ways that you can stop the drinking and driving. And if you’ve had a lot to drink at night, you’re probably not sober in the morning, so rethink your decisions.”

Project Red Ribbon runs from November 1 through to the first week of January.

“It is important to me personally because I have children who are out on the roads, and who are not too far away from potentially being drivers themselves, and I want them to understand the importance of that,” said Celebre.

“On a larger scale, it is important for me to live in a community that is safe. Impaired driving is 100 per cent preventable and I stand behind the mission of MADD Canada, and of MADD Nipissing, and I want to see a future without impaired driving.”

Bryan Gauthier, an Allstate Insurance agency manager, presented a $1,000 cheque to MADD on behalf of the company.

“It is important for us to get the message out about safe driving, and not drinking and driving. At Allstate, we really talk about prevention and protection. We’re talking about protecting yourself and protecting everyone else on the road, and making the right decisions.”

The sponsorship money will be used to support local victims.

“Every April MADD Canada has a national victims conference, and so we will reserve this money to send someone who would like to be able to go to that. It provides on-going support, but that weekend is a starting point for them,” explained the local MADD president.