Identifying impaired drivers and boaters is part of a new public campaign launched in Williams Lake.
Under the leadership of Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) Williams Lake Chapter, signs encouraging the public to report impaired drivers have been installed in and around the city.
With the support of mayor and council, Insp. Warren Brown and the RCMP detachment, and director of municipal services Kevin Goldfuss, MADD has installed 10 Call 911 signs around Williams Lake and a Report Impaired Boating sign at Scout Island, said MADD president Pam Herman, adding with the help of Desi Cheverie from the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, two boating signs have also been installed at Chimney Lake.
The initiative is part of a larger program funded by MADD in the province that has resulted in 45 signs being put up by BC Parks.
In the Cariboo region there are signs at the Green Lake, Lac La Hache and Ten Mile Lake boat launches.
Herman has been hoping to have the signs installed for four years.When she noticed that Delta had received some signs she contacted the MADD B.C. manager and asked if Williams Lake could participate.
“It was just a matter of asking and MADD sent the signs,” Herman said.
The boating signs were created through Transport Canada and MADD, while the Report Impaired Drivers (RID) signs were a special project for MADD Canada, with Speedpro Signs producing the signs for Williams Lake.
“I’m also trying to get permission to let us put some signs on all the entrances to Williams Lake but that falls under the Ministry of Transportation,” Herman added.
“Williams Lake is proud to bring this important program to our city,” said Williams Lake Mayor Kerry Cook. “With every impaired driver stopped, you are potentially saving a life or preventing an injury. Everyone has a role to play in keeping our roads and communities safe.”
Impaired driving claims between 1,250 and 1,500 lives each year.
Another 63,000 people are injured in impairment- related crashes. Alcohol is a factor in more than 40 per cent of boating fatalities, 37 per cent of boaters in Canada admit to consuming alcohol every time they boat, and nearly two-thirds admit to consuming alcohol sometimes when boating.
Herman first became involved with educating the public about impaired driving through a party program in Williams Lake at the high schools that was geared to students.
Eventually she joined MADD because she’d seen too many funerals of students and had even spoke at several.
“My first year with the party program at Williams Lake Secondary school 14 years ago, two former students were killed in a drinking driving accident at the 150,” she recalled.
Those were kids she had worked with for four years, watched leave school at a time in their lives when they could have done great things, and then suddenly they were gone.
“That was my motivation to join and try to make a difference,” Herman said.
While the party program no longer exists, MADD visits the schools every year to make a multimedia presentation.
Recently Herman held an AGM for MADD and only four people attended.
It would be nice to have more members of the community involved, but chuckling Herman said the chapter “muddles” through and does the best it can.