Yukon North Of Ordinary

News archive for May 7, 2013

911 can be used to report drunk drivers, boaters

Whitehorse residents may soon get a sobering reminder to call 911 if they think they’ve spotted an impaired driver or boater.

photo

Photo by Vince Fedoroff

STRENGTHENING ROADS AND WATERWAYS SAFETY – Local MADD president Daniela Martinson (left) and vice-president Amanda Price discuss the organization’s plans during Monday evening’s city council meeting.

Whitehorse residents may soon get a sobering reminder to call 911 if they think they’ve spotted an impaired driver or boater.

At Monday evening’s city council meeting, local Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) representatives told members of their plans to be part of MADD Canada’s Campaign 911 and ask for the city’s assistance with the signs planned for the Schwatka Lake boat launch.

The campaign aims to remind residents they can use the 911 service to let police know of potential impaired drivers or boaters.

“Both are equally dangerous,” Amanda Price, vice-president of MADD’s Whitehorse branch, told council.

The local group, which has been working with the RCMP, has confirmed it can handle the potential extra calls that may come in as the campaign gets underway.

Signs will be located throughout the city, letting people know it’s OK to call 911 in the interest of preventing potential collisions caused by suspected impaired drivers.

Since the national program was launched in 2007, arrest rates for impaired drivers have risen by an average of 30 per cent.

“In York region (near Toronto), for example, calls to 911 to report suspected impaired drivers increased by 62 per cent and impaired driving arrests more than doubled in the first year,” it was noted in a staff report to council on the matter.

The campaign on boating is an extension of the Call 911 driving program.

At Schwatka Lake, MADD is planning to put up two signs measuring two feet by three feet at the north and south boat launches that state: “Report Impaired Boating – Call 911” and feature logos from MADD Whitehorse, the city, police and other levels of government.

As it was noted in the report to council, over the last two years, 250 signs have been installed in marinas across the country.

“This important project will be expanded this year, and MADD Whitehorse has obtained authorization from (the) Yukon government to install (the) signs at 15 boat launches throughout southern Yukon.

“MADD Canada plans to install another 100 ‘Report Impaired Boating – Call 911’ signs throughout the country and would like to have Schwatka Lake included in these numbers.

“MADD Whitehorse has obtained approval from the RCMP M Division to have these calls routed through their 911 call centre.”

MADD Whitehorse is asking the city to cover the sign installation costs, said Linda Rapp, the city’s director of community and recreation services.

The city would put in the concrete and sign posts and place the sign, with MADD responsible for its annual maintenance, she said in response to a question from Coun. Jocelyn Curteanu.

The in-kind work is estimated to be worth about $500.

Under questioning from Coun. Dave Stockdale, Rapp also noted the city has had a legal review done, and there’s no liability issue in placing the signs up but it would not be within the city’s jurisdiction to conduct any enforcement on the water ways.

Coun. John Streicker, meanwhile, noted the importance of being proactive on such matters.

As the report stated: “The effects of broadening the safe boating message brings awareness to the issue of driving and drinking while operating a vessel.

“Yukon has the second-highest per capita rate of drinking and driving incidents; by bringing awareness to the fact that there is an option for people to use, it provides a benefit to our whole community.”

Council will vote on whether to provide the in-kind work next week.

In the meantime, MADD Whitehorse is continuing its efforts on several fronts.

As Price pointed out, the group wants to broaden its message that it’s not anti-alcohol, but rather wants to promote responsible choices.

Local MADD president Daniela Martinson also noted that with high school graduation season approaching, the group will be getting its message out via a visible message board on local roads during grad weekends.

CommentsAdd a comment

flyingfur

May 8, 2013 at 3:06 pm

I think this is a great initiative and I applaud these ladies for pushing it.  My only concern with it, in terms of it being effective, is that we rarely have RCMP members on the water and added to their other duties, I just wonder who they heck is going to enforce this?

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