Keep your eyes peeled for drunks

Mothers Against Drunk Driving has a message for boozing drivers: you are being watched.

Red Deer’s Aleta Neville said at MADD’s Report Impaired Drivers launch Thursday had someone called 911 about a suspected impaired driver in 2006

Red Deer’s Aleta Neville said at MADD’s Report Impaired Drivers launch Thursday had someone called 911 about a suspected impaired driver in 2006



Mothers Against Drunk Driving has a message for boozing drivers: you are being watched.

The national organization launched an Alberta-wide Report Impaired Drivers (RID) — Call 911 program in Red Deer on Thursday.

The goal is to encourage motorists or anyone else to report suspected drunk drivers by dialling 911 and calling in a location, the vehicle’s travel direction, licence number and a description if possible. The program is a joint effort with MADD Canada, RCMP K Division and Alberta Health Services.

It is estimated that impaired driving collisions kill four people and injure 200 across Canada every day, said Calgary’s Denise Dubyk, MADD Canada’s incoming national president, at a news conference for the 911 program at the 67th Street RCMP station.

The program has proven a success in other places, increasing arrest rates for impaired driving by an average of 30 per cent.

Aleta Neville’s 21-year-old son Brent was killed on her birthday on March 17, 2006. He was a passenger in a car driven by a lifelong friend, who had been drinking, before he lost control and hit a light standard on a Calgary street.

Neville, president of MADD’s Red Deer and district chapter, later learned that witnesses had seen the speeding car and suspected the driver was drunk but did nothing.

“Our lives are forever changed. A part of you dies,” she said. “We are left with the broken hearts but ultimately Brent lost the most.”

The campaign will send a strong signal to those thinking of climbing behind the wheel after drinking that there are thousands of eyes out there watching.

“With public support, more impaired drivers will get caught, more will be prosecuted, more will get a criminal record and more will go to jail.”

K Division traffic services co-ordinator Staff Sgt. James Johnston said campaigns like the 911 initiative work. When seatbelt safety was focused on, compliance rose to 90 per cent from 60 per cent.

Using the 911 emergency call system to help track down drunks makes sense, he suggested. “Impaired driving is a public emergency.”

A series of 18 road signs will be set up around Alberta with the message: “It’s your community. It’s your call. Report Impaired Drivers. Pull over. Call 911.”

In the last year, Report Impaired Drivers programs have been rolled out in Calgary, Nanaimo, B.C., St. John’s, N.L., Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com