A White Cross display to remember the victims of impaired driving was erected this past weekend along the St. Clair Parkway.
About 20 volunteers with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Sarnia-Lambton were joined by Sarnia firefighters, Fire Chief Bryan VanGaver, Sarnia Police Chief Derek Davis and Aamjiwnaang band Coun. John Adams at the roadside on First Nation property.
Adams welcomed the MADD display and said its high-traffic location will spread awareness about drinking and driving. It will help keep the community safe as the holiday season arrives, he said.
Each year, MADD puts up the White Cross display in November at a different location in Sarnia/Lambton to kick off Project Red Ribbon. It’s meant to encourage anyone who is going to drink or consume marijuana to plan ahead for the ride home.
“Designate a DD, take a taxi, sleep over, or call a sober friend or relative,” said MADD Sarnia-Lambton President Erin Pollard. “Whatever you do, don’t get behind the wheel because the results could be devastating.”
“The planting of these crosses is a stark reminder that the cost of impaired driving is intensely personal,” said Davis during a brief dedication once the crosses were hammered into the ground. Davis became Sarnia’s new police chief in June and is also the vice-chair of MADD Canada’s national board.
Since January 2021, Sarnia Police Services have investigated 235 impaired occurrences, an increase of 14% over the same period previously, he said.
Alcohol related arrests are up 56%.
Most offenders are between the ages of 20 and 39 years, however 10 were under 19 years of age and four were over 70, indicating that impaired driving is a problem within every age group.
Chief Davis encouraged anyone who suspects a driver may be impaired to call 9-1-1 for police response.
“Community safety cannot be achieved through police efforts alone,” he said. “We need the support and participation of everyone in our community, and to work in partnership with groups like MADD Sarnia/Lambton.”