Campaign 911 signs go up in county

Signs that urge motorists to call 911 when they see suspected impaired drivers are now standing in Red Deer County. County council recently allowed Community Partners Against Impaired Driving, a committee that includes the RCMP and Mothers Against Drunk Driving, to erect two signs, reading “It’s Your Community. It’s Your Call — Pull Over Call 911,” in the county.

Aleta Neville president of the Red Deer and District chapter of Mother Against Drunk Driving stands with sign along MacKenzie Road.

Aleta Neville president of the Red Deer and District chapter of Mother Against Drunk Driving stands with sign along MacKenzie Road.

Signs that urge motorists to call 911 when they see suspected impaired drivers are now standing in Red Deer County.

County council recently allowed Community Partners Against Impaired Driving, a committee that includes the RCMP and Mothers Against Drunk Driving, to erect two signs, reading “It’s Your Community. It’s Your Call — Pull Over Call 911,” in the county.

The signs have been posted on McKenzie Road east of Hwy 2 and at Township Road 354 (Little Red Deer Road) and Range Road 10 west of Innisfail.

Campaign 911 was introduced by MADD Canada in 2007.

While the Red Deer and District chapter of MADD commends the county’s actions, it is disappointed that Red Deer city council chose to not use the two Campaign 911 signs as part of a provincial kickoff.

Chapter president Aleta Neville said these signs are meant to help protect residents.

City council rejected the 2.4 metres by 1.2 metres signs for fear of adding more clutter and increasing driver distraction. City traffic engineers had suggested erecting the signs along the east end of 67th Street and/or along 19th Street.

Instead, council supported a one-year pilot project to erect two municipally owned signs providing crime prevention information. Crime Stoppers and Community Partners Against Impaired Driving could add its information on the signs, which will run a maximum of 1.2 metres by 2.4 metres in size. Crime Stoppers had wanted to install signs along public right-of-ways, but that too was rejected by council.

MADD applauds the pilot project featuring crime prevention information. But with such restricted space, it’s going to be tough to get the 911 message out, Neville said.

“Our mission is that once they put up their (crime prevention signs) that they would see it in their hearts that this is the right thing to do for public safety,” said Neville. “The amount of young kids killed by impaired driving is staggering.”

MADD reports that four Canadians are killed and 200 are injured in impaired driving crashes every day.

Neville’s 21-year-old son Brent was killed when the car he was in hit a light standard in Calgary on March 17, 2006. The driver was charged with impaired driving causing death. Neville said she doesn’t want other families to deal with the life sentence they’ve endured.

The 911 signs will serve as a warning to impaired drivers that it’s not just the police looking for them.

“Campaign 911 provides police with extra eyes on the road,” Neville said.

Three fatal collisions this year in Red Deer have led to impaired driving causing death charges.

Neville said these new signs are making a positive impact, both in terms of the number of 911 calls and impaired driving charges laid as a result.

Calgary saw a marked increase from October 2009 to February 2010 in calls to 911 regarding suspected impaired drivers after the signs were launched. Calls shot up by nearly 60 per cent (2,365 calls from 1,484) over the same time period in the previous year. The Calgary signs were posted along major traffic corridors.

“It’s working in areas where they have signs, versus those that don’t have them,” said Neville.

ltester@bprda.wpengine.com