Blowing the whistle on drinking drivers?

Impaired driving is 100% preventable yet it’s the number one criminal cause of death in Canada, says Denise Dubyk, National President of MADD Canada.

Four people are killed and 174 are injured every day in Canada as a result of impaired driving.

Dubyk was in Kelowna Tuesday to help launch Campaign 911, a new road safety initiative that aims to enlist the help of local motorists in identifying and reporting impaired drivers. The program is the result of a partnership between MADD Central Okanagan, the City of Kelowna, and Kelowna RCMP.

The unveiling took place north of Hobson Road on Lakeshore Drive, at the very spot where Riley Russell was hit head-on by an impaired driver one year ago.

Russell was on hand to show her support. “I thought it was vital to alert the public that even a suspected drunk driver is worthy of having the police notified.”

Russell was seriously injured in the January 2012 accident and underwent a number of surgeries during her recovery. 

Noel Wentworth of Wentworth Music helped to organize a sold-out fundraiser at the El Dorado, which took place just two weeks after Riley’s accident.

“The money that we raised for Riley Russell for her accident on January 13, 2012 has gone towards creating the signs that you see today,” said Wentworth.

Twelve signs advising drivers to call 911 if they suspect an impaired driver will be posted around Kelowna on Springfield, Gordon, Lakeshore, Pandosy, and Glenmore.

Dubyk herself lost her son-in-law to a drinking and driving accident 13 years ago. She is a founding member of MADD Calgary and has been the organization’s national president since 2010.

She was pleased to be able to participate in Tuesday’s unveiling, pointing to the power of a community in coming together. “From tragedy comes hope, and from hope comes change. It’s amazing how people can band together and make such a difference.”

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