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Police, MADD send message: drive sober

Operation Christmas kicked off Friday with a checkpoint on Westville Road, New Glasgow, involving many different emergency services. From the left, Dave White, John Desmond of the New Glasgow Fire Department and Walter Smith with the New Glasgow Regional Police Department hand out red ribbons from Pictou County MADD and information on the dangers of driving while impaired by drugs or alcohol.
Operation Christmas kicked off Friday with a checkpoint on Westville Road, New Glasgow, involving many different emergency services. From left are Dave White, John Desmond of the New Glasgow Fire Department and Walter Smith with the New Glasgow Regional Police Department. - Sueann Musick

NEW GLASGOW

It's a number no one wants to see rise, says the president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving Pictou County.

Joy Polley said, as of Friday, there have been 94 charges of impaired driving laid in Pictou County since Jan. 1, 2017. It is not far off last year’s total of 103 charges considering there are still three weeks left in the year.

In an effort to get its drive sober message across to the public, MADD Pictou County members kicked off Operation Christmas with the assistance of Truro, Stellarton, Westville Police, Pictou County RCMP along with New Glasgow, Trenton Fire Departments, EHS, MADD, Crime Prevention, Crime Stoppers and motor vehicle inspection officers. Operation Christmas is an information and awareness campaign designed to promote “DO NOT DRINK AN DRIVE.”

“It is about awareness and keeping safe,” said Polley. “Never drive impaired or with an impaired driver, plan for a safe drive home and call 911 if you suspect someone is driving while impaired.”

Operation Christmas is held this time of year because its the season for holiday gatherings that might involve alcohol.

Const. Ken MacDonald of the New Glasgow Regional Police Department said of the 103 impaired charges laid in 2016, about 40 per cent were brought to the attention of police by the public.

If more businesses or people called 911 with their concerns about seeing someone driving while impaired either by drugs or alcohol that number would be even lower, he said.

Polley said when most people think of impaired driving, they think about alcohol, but drivers can be impaired by drugs as well.

There are not a lot of statistics available on motor vehicle collisions related to drugs, but in 2013 a study done on 2,430 fatal crashes across Canada determined 60 per cent of the driver’s in the crashes had the presence of drugs and/or alcohol in their system.

In Nova Scotia, there were a total of 86 deaths by motor vehicle crashes in 2013 and 9.3 per cent of these involved people having both the presence of drugs and alcohol when tested post-mortem.

Of the 86 Nova Scotia deaths, 11.6 per cent only alcohol present and 28 per cent had only drugs present.

Polley said MADD Canada is pleased to see that the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation will be controlling the sale of cannabis when it is expected to be legalized at a recreational level in 2018 but it feels that alcohol and cannabis should sold separately.

“When cannabis and alcohol are combined, the crash risk is increased dramatically,” she said.

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