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Estevan MADD to focus on impaired driving prevention in April

Alongside the EPS and SGI in April, the volunteer organization will focus on impaired driving preventative measures and projects, promoting the right choices.
MADD signs
Impaired Driver Caught Here mobile signs are to appear on the streets of Estevan again starting in April.

ESTEVAN - Estevan's chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving is ready for a month focused on fighting a plague of the contemporary world.

Alongside the EPS and SGI in April, the volunteer organization focuses on impaired driving preventative measures and projects, promoting the right choices.

MADD Estevan leader Connie Hagel said the campaign will kick off with special sobriety check stops hosted by the EPS and positive ticketing. Sober drivers who go through those checkpoints will be rewarded for making the safe and responsible decision with gift cards to local businesses. One lucky sober driver will receive a $75 gift card. 

"It is our way of saying thank you for driving sober," Hagel said.

Spring will also bring a relaunch of MADD Canada's Impaired Driver Caught Here mobile sign campaign, an initiative started in Estevan that spread across the country. 

"We're going to focus really on getting the signage up and raising awareness," Hagel said.

Featuring the messages "Impaired Driver Caught Here" and "Call 911", the signs are moved to new locations regularly. Hagel said in April they hope to have signs where impaired drivers were pulled over and charged in March. Then, they will be moved throughout summer to reflect the picture from the previous month as much as possible.

"Impaired driving continues to be a serious problem that happens at all times of day and in all communities," Hagel said. "We believe these signs send a strong deterrent message and highlight the fact that driving impaired is just never worth the risk. It's not worth having your licence suspended, it's not worth having a criminal record and it's not worth the fines and legal fees. Most importantly it's not worth the risk of a crash that kills or injures you, or other people."

The campaign is conducted in partnership with the local police service and SGI. 

The mobile signs highlight the effectiveness of Saskatchewan's Report Impaired Drivers program and MADD Canada's Campaign 911 program, both of which encourage the public to call 911 to report suspected impaired drivers so that police can take them off the roads before potentially deadly crashes occur.

"The key goal of this campaign is to remind the public about the important role they can play in helping police take impaired drivers off the roads and reinforce the message that if you see a driver you suspect is impaired by alcohol or drugs, you can call 911 to report it," Hagel said.

Joining MADD Estevan with the initiative this year in Saskatchewan will be MADD chapters in Meadow Lake, Prince Albert, Saskatoon, Regina and – for the first time – Moose Jaw. They all will place signs at locations within their communities where impaired drivers were caught and criminally charged.

Hagel said by now, the initiative was picked up almost in every province in Canada. The feedback she gets from local residents and other communities is usually positive. 

"The community and the people that were affected by [impaired driving] really like the idea because it lets the community and the people know that impaired drivers aren't only caught at the common fairways, they are caught in the residential areas too," Hagel said.

In many cases, impaired drivers were caught by police following 911 calls from members of the public.

Estevan MADD also plans on bringing back their smashed car that illustrates potential results of impaired driving. Hagel said they hope to have it out in the community in June.

It will be the same vehicle they used last year, but it will be displayed at new locations. Hagel reminded people that it hasn't been in a real accident but was made for the campaign.

MADD Canada's latest statistics show that in 2019, there were nearly 87,000 criminal charges and provincial licence suspensions due to impaired driving, which averages at about 232 charges and suspensions for every 100,000 Canadians. In Saskatchewan, 3,993 charges and suspensions were recorded.

MADD Canada, law enforcement and SGI encourage the public to never drive impaired; plan ahead for a sober ride home; never accept a ride from a driver who may be impaired; and call 911 if you see a driver you suspect is impaired.