New sign campaign arrives to fight drunk driving
The first road signs targeting drunk drivers from a new traffic safety initiative have been installed in Mountain View County.
Two new Report Impaired Drivers signs – RID-911 – were installed on Town of Olds property this month with plans to add others in four other unspecified Central Alberta communities in the near future, said Len Wagner, regional traffic safety consultant for Central Alberta. Wagner was retained by Alberta Transportation to develop and launch the initiative.
Wagner said the new signs, which are red, black and white and measure about 4 feet by 8 feet tall, are the culmination of an eight-month project, which started in Stettler. However, he said the current campaign had its roots three years ago in Calgary when the municipality partnered with MADD Calgary (Mothers Against Drunk Drivers), Alberta Health Services and the Calgary Police Service.
In the first year of the Calgary RID-911 campaign there was an 80 per cent increase in 911 calls reporting suspected impaired drivers. As well, the number of people charged for impaired driving following a 911 call increased by almost 30 per cent in the first year of the campaign.
“This is to make motorists aware that they can call 911 when they suspect an impaired driver is on the road,” said Wagner, who added that raising awareness on the issue is paramount for the campaign. “They (Calgary campaign) were very successful. Their calls for service went way, way up.”
He said the successful Calgary campaign led to another one in Red Deer. Wagner then worked with several stakeholders in the central region of the province to initiate an awareness campaign throughout rural Alberta.
He said the campaign included partnering with four junior and senior hockey teams, including the Junior B Stettler Lightning, the Junior A Drumheller Dragons and Olds Grizzlys, and the senior men’s Bentley Generals hockey squad.
“We attended hockey games in each community and promoted the RID-911 campaign, giving out sticky notepads and pens,” said Wagner, adding the campaign was financed through a grant from the Alberta Traffic Safety Fund. “In Olds we also partnered with the college.”
The next step, said Wagner, is to approach four other communities in Central Alberta. Although the signs are now up in two communities there have been challenges along the way.
“I am not going to get into that. It’s political,” said Wagner. “But they (signs) are up. It takes time.”