ESTEVAN - The local chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is gearing up towards the Christmas season.
Every year they partner with other agencies to remind residents to make safe choices when it comes to driving.
From November through January, they have their Red Ribbon campaign, in which they praise drivers for driving sober. The campaign is back in Estevan again this year.
"We try to get red ribbons out there to people as (a symbol of) a commitment to driving sober," said MADD Estevan chapter lead Connie Hagel.
Also, during the Christmas season, the Estevan MADD chapter helps the police with seasonal check stops, in which they also give out different souvenirs, thus thanking people for driving sober. Besides, they partner with SGI when it comes to getting the message out there for stopping impaired drivers for the Christmas season.
"We are just being out there. When we do check stops with the Estevan Police Service, we get a lot of co-operation from them and a lot of fun for the volunteers. We were standing out in the cold, but we're still passing on that message. So it works really well," Hagel said.
As of last summer, the situation with impaired driving in the area has improved a little, Hagel said, but it doesn't mean that there is no need for their efforts anymore.
She currently has "Impaired driver caught here" signs out in the community, illustrating that impaired drivers can be caught anywhere - on main streets, highways or back alleys. This campaign attracted provincial attention and was picked up by other communities.
Recently, Estevan MADD also had a smashed vehicle displayed in different places in the community, reminding drivers about the potential consequences of poor choices. Hagel said there was a lot of positive feedback for that campaign, and they plan on resuming it later.
"I had a lot of people comment on it, saying it was a good visual thing," Hagel said. "I hope to do it again next year. It's all ready to go. And hopefully, it's a very, very vivid constant reminder."
The car used in the campaign wasn't in an accident and was smashed to educate people about the potential consequences of drunk or distracted driving. Such a display does make many people think that it might have been their vehicle and their life at risk, Hagel said.
"When we put the smashed car out, the first place we put it was the school and that really impacted because the young and old, they still drive impaired," Hagel said.
There are no new initiatives planned at this time, but Hagel noted that they always try to bring in more education and promotion to the topic.
And with the holiday season approaching, Hagel said their main message to the community is to always think in advance when they are celebrating.
"The same message that I always have, and my grandchildren helped me in that message, is plan a safe ride home throughout the holiday season. Just plan a safe ride home. It's not that difficult. There are enough taxis. If the weather's nice, walk home, or make that advance planning before you even plan on going out for a Christmas party, figure out who's going to be the sober driver in that situation. Always plan a safe ride home. That's my message. Don't drive impaired," Hagel said.