A campaign encouraging Nova Scotians to call 9-1-1 if they suspect someone is driving while impaired was launched yesterday in Halifax.
The Call 911 campaign is a national initiative from Mothers Against Drunk Drivers Canada.
Provincially, the partnership includes Halifax Regional Police and the RCMP, with the goal to prevent needless deaths and injuries caused by drunk drivers during the holiday season, said Margaret Miller, president of MADD Canada.
“We believe it is a program that will save lives,” said Miller, who lost her 26-year-old son, Bruce, a police officer, to a crash involvng an impaired driver. “The death of my son was a preventable loss that makes Call 911 program so very important.”
Miller said the program goes beyond law enforcement and is “giving Canadians a critical role in their own safety, by calling 9-1-1 before a potentially deadly crash occurs.”
The province will install 13 highway signs during the holiday season to endorse the campaign.
Miller said the annual program has increased arrest rates by an average of 30 per cent nationwide.
Impaired driving is the number one cause of criminal death in Canada, said Bill Estabrooks, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal for Nova Scotia, at the program launch yesterday morning at HRP headquarters. He said of the 66 roadside deaths in Nova Scotia this year, 18 involved an impaired driver.
Estabrooks said although drinking and driving is not a seasonal issue, the risk increases at year’s end.
“Far too often during the festive season, many people make poor and stupid choices when it comes to getting behind the wheel after drinking,” he said.
Last month, the province passed legislation to fight impaired driving, increasing licence suspensions to seven days for people who register a blood-alcohol level above .05, said Estabrooks.
This moved Nova Scotia up seven places on MADD’s grading scale from eleventh to fourth place in the country with a B rating, he added.