’Tis the season to smarten up

It breaks the heart. And the nightmare never ends — for the victim, for the accused, for the community.

It breaks the heart.

And the nightmare never ends — for the victim, for the accused, for the community.

A young man is dead. Another is facing the most serious of charges.

Jonathon David Wood, 33, died when the stationary cab he was in at 3:30 a.m. Saturday was rear-ended by a pickup truck in Red Deer at 30th Avenue and 32nd Street.

He had been out having a few drinks after a squash tournament and took a cab home.

Sometime from now, a year or more most likely, the courts will decide the guilt or innocence of a young man, just 18, who now faces a charge of impaired driving causing death after the fatal collision.

The fact that this tragedy is linked to a possible impaired driving makes it timely to have the discussion — one more time.

The season of drink will soon be upon us as Christmas party time begins in a few weeks. Truth be known, though, we could talk about impaired driving anytime, any day, anywhere, and it would be timely.

That’s what is so terrible.

Now there’s a discussion in the community about whether there are enough Check Stops being conducted by Red Deer City RCMP.

I for one refuse to start blaming the police for the impaired drivers on our streets. While Check Stops might deter people for awhile, evidence appears to show that it’s not a long-lasting remedy.

We can’t have a Check Stop outside every bar, at every corner, all the time. We’ll never be able to put enough enforcement on the streets.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving Canada believes that random breath testing will save lives and is pushing government on this.

MADD says: “As the law stands now, police can only demand a roadside breath sample if they have reasonable grounds to suspect the driver has been drinking. They must rely on behavioural clues and observations.

“The problem is, however, that people do not always exhibit obvious signs of intoxication, particularly those who routinely drink and drive.

“As a result, the majority of drinking drivers go undetected at sobriety checkpoints. In fact, data indicates a person would have to drive impaired, on average, once a week, every week, for more than three years before being charged with impaired driving offence, and for more than six years before being convicted.”

What we know today is that drinking and driving isn’t going away soon. There are other things we could do, if we are prepared to, that may help.

Are we are prepared to insist on all vehicles being equipped with alcohol ignition devices? Your car won’t start when you blow into it and it senses too much alcohol.

Admittedly, even such devices wouldn’t eliminate impaired driving. We’ve heard the stories about how people circumvent the devices by having someone who hasn’t been drinking blow into them. Seems there’s no end to how determined some people are.

How about zero tolerance? That means drivers can have no alcohol in their system at all. Never mind the .05 or .08 blood alcohol content.

Sadly though, we continue legislate and educate and enforce, yet still we have people facing impaired driving charges every day across this country.

The tragedies continue.

Mary-Ann Barr is the Advocate’s assistant city editor. She can be reached at 403-314-4332 or by email at barr@bprda.wpengine.com.

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