Patricia Hynes-Coates will never forget the morning when she received a phone call learning that her stepson had been killed by an impaired driver.
Now the national president of MADD Canada, Hynes-Coates, and other community members, attended the 24th annual candlelight vigil at St. Luke’s Anglican Church on Saturday night to remember loved ones who were killed or injured by an impaired driver.
“We need to make sure that people are aware that impaired driving, whether it’s drugs, alcohol or a combination, has to stop. It’s 100 per cent preventable and a lot of people think it’s not going to happen to them,” said Hynes-Coates.
“I’ll tell you, I’m living proof that it can happen to any of us.”
There wasn’t a dry eye in the church. Through all the pain, Hynes-Coates said the message was clear.
“Our hope is that eventually we can combat it and stop it completely. This type of vigil is a good way to bring awareness to people of what’s happening and hopefully stop them from driving while impaired by drugs or alcohol,” said Hynes-Coates.
She said it needs to stop because people don’t realize how often people are injured and killed by impaired drivers.
“Five people a day are killed on average due to impaired drivers in Canada and 175 (people) are injured per day. Those statistics are alarming. Each province is different, some are higher, some are lower, but one life is always too many,” said Hynes-Coates.
Impaired driving impact lives throughout the year, but Hynes-Coates said she likes to remind people to be extra careful heading into the holidays.
“We’re trying to bring awareness, especially this time of year because we know there is an increase. We’re hoping people stop and think. We’re not telling you to not go out and and enjoy yourself, we are asking you to plan ahead, have a designated driver, call a cab or a friend,” said Hynes-Coates.
MADD launched its annual campaign, Project Red Ribbon, on Nov.1, giving drivers the opportunity to display a red ribbon on their vehicles in support of sober driving. The campaign runs until Jan. 3.