Local RCMP have noticed a significant drop in the number of impaired drivers over the holiday season, says Sgt. Bob Verbree, NCO for the Cariboo-Chilcotin Traffic Services.
“We have some overtime hours we extend and we’re doing random road checks every weekend from now until New Years. And since we started the first of December we’ve noticed impaired driving is down, probably as a result of immediate roadside prohibition,” he says, adding over the year they’ve realized a 50 per cent decrease in impaired driving, serious injury and fatalities.
The statistics, he adds, are pretty universal around the province.
“We fall right in there,” he says of those statistics and confirms that last weekend the RCMP set up roadblocks at Alexis Creek, Dog Creek and in Williams Lake and will be out again in full force this weekend.
Dave Dickson, safer communities co-ordinator for the RCMP and the City of Williams Lake, co-ordinates Operation Red Nose under the community policing program.
Three years into offering the service to the community, Dickson says it continues to be successful.
“It’s an incredibly good program,” he says. “We offer free rides home.”
The rides are offered by donation, though there is no obligation for people to donate. The proceeds from the program go back into youth programs in the community.
This year the money will go toward KidSport, the Blue Fins, the Williams Lake Gymnastic Club and the Williams Lake Skating Club.
Rotarians drive vehicles, which are donated by local dealerships, and Panago Pizza supplies a few pizzas for each shift.
The key, Dickson says, is that people calling to use the service must have vehicles. Volunteers drive the vehicle owners home in their cars.
“If people called us up that didn’t have a vehicle and we were to give them a ride then we’d be taking business away from the taxis. We don’t want to run competition with them so when one of our dispatchers receives a call from someone, the first question we ask is if they have a vehicle.”
So far Operation Red Nose has transported 324 people, travelled more than 2,400 kilometres, used 78 volunteers and received donations in excess of $3,700 this season.
“We’re likely to be at about the same as other years. Our problem is capacity. We can only do so much. We don’t turn people away, but we’ve come up a little from the other two years,” he says, suggesting it’s due to a combination of more marketing and existing impaired driving laws.
“I enjoy a glass of wine or a bottle of beer, but if you drink, you don’t drive,” he says. “What’s wrong with that equation? You read stories about carnage and you think, man if I went out and had a couple of drinks and ran over a child how could I even face the morning.”
Operation Red Nose is offered on Dec. 16, 17, and 31. The number to call is 778-267-0020.