It’s Saturday night. You’re at a friend’s house watching the hockey game, playing cards, or enjoying dinner. You’ve had some beer, a glass of wine, maybe a rum and coke.
Around 11 p.m. you’re tired and decide to hit the road.
You have only a short distance to go, and you don’t feel any effects of the alcohol, so you drive home instead of calling a cab to come pick you up.
It’s early spring, but the roads are a bit slippery and it’s a dark night. You just want to get home and go to bed.
You realize you’re driving too fast to make the turn onto your road. You find yourself sliding out of control into the other lane.
Your neighbour’s teenaged kids, a brother and sister, are on the side of the road, scurrying home because they’ve just missed their 11 p.m. curfew.
You’re unable to control the car and it strikes both of them.
The boy dies instantly. The girl succumbs to her injuries a few hours later.
Before she does, she learns of her brother’s death and her scream is heard through the hospital halls.
You’re in emergency waiting to be seen, and hear the scream.
Down the hall, you see your neighbour, your friend, collapse on the floor after losing both of his children.
You walk away from the accident physically unscathed, but emotionally damaged for the rest of your life.
You made the selfish decision to drive. You are sentenced to time in jail.
It’s tragedy all around. And could have easily been avoided.
Thankfully, this story isn’t true. But similar tragedies happen.
This is National Impaired Driving Prevention Week. Despite years of public education about the dangers of drinking and driving — or using drugs and driving — the message hasn’t gotten through. Drinking and driving is an epidemic in this region. According to Statistics Canada figures from 2015, all four Atlantic provinces rate above the national impaired driving rate of 200 incidents per 100,000 people.
St. John’s had the highest rate among Canada’s metropolitan areas — 411 incidents per 100,000 people. Moncton and Halifax are also above the national average of 200 incidents per 100,000 people.
These stats were released in December 2016, and are still relevant. Too many impaired driving charges continue to be laid.
According to the RCMP, it’s “a leading cause of criminal death in Canada.”
It’s up to the public to curb this.
Get impaired drivers off the road by encouraging loved ones and friends to call a cab or arrange a designated driver.
Report suspected impaired drivers to the police. And never get behind the wheel if you’ve had a drink or a draw.
Taking someone’s life, perhaps your own, is simply not worth the risk.
Just imagine having to look another person in the eye after you killed someone they love.