Plan ahead – preparing for a safe ride home a necessity during Christmas time

Don't drink and drive in Grand Forks or you could find yourself in big trouble.

December is the time for parties and social events and spreading good cheer. Unfortunately, those who get behind the wheel after consuming too much cheer could find themselves in trouble with the police, or worse.Grand Forks RCMP are joining the nation-wide enforcement policy for impaired driving.“It’s going to begin with an enforcement blitz on Dec. 7,” said local Staff Sgt. Jim Harrison. “Impaired driving is an entirely preventable cause of death and injury that has an immense cost and devastating effects on our communities.”Police are asking people that if you’re drinking do not drive. Instead, find an alternate way home such as public transit or arrange for a designated driver. “The key message is to plan before you go,” said Harrison.He said that people who go out and have no plan for getting home often have a couple of drinks and think they’re okay to get behind the wheel to drive.‘It’s a formula for disaster,” he said. “If you know you’re going to a seasonal party and you’re going to be consuming alcohol, make a plan and stick to it. We’ll be out there and anyone out there who we encounter who blows a fail on our roadside screening device will likely be prohibited from driving for 90 days and have their vehicle impounded for 30 days. It’s pretty costly.”The RCMP is partnering with the provincial government and ICBC in the annual December CounterAttack campaign which urges drivers to plan ahead for a safe ride home if their holiday festivities will involve alcohol.“The reality is that approximately one third of all car crash fatalities in B.C. are related to impaired driving,” said Todd Stone, minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, in a press release. “These are preventable tragedies. Safety is our top priority and we want everyone to do their part this Christmas season and look out for their friends and family—take a stand and don’t let them get behind the wheel impaired.”Chief constable Jamie Graham, chair of the B.C. Association of Chiefs on Police Traffic Safety Committee, said that every December the RCMP sees people who think they’re okay to drive but end up causing crashes that change lives forever.“The hardest aspect of a police officer’s job is telling a family they have lost a loved one as a result of one foolish decision —a loss that could have been prevented,” he said in a press release. “We know there will be many gatherings this holiday season and that’s why officers across the province are dedicated to keeping impaired drivers off the road.”Alternate options for getting home include having a sober friend, walking or taking a cab. In Grand Forks and area, that means calling Grand Forks Taxi. That’s the new name for Boundary Taxi.William “Sunny” Schneider, owner/operator of the service, has hired a second driver which means the company will now offer service 24 hours per day.Schneider is already planning for New Year’s Eve when he will be bringing in a second cab in order to accommodate more people.The cab company is busiest on Friday and Saturday evenings, but Schneider said that the evening party crowd has dropped considerably since the Winnipeg and Grand Forks hotels burned down last year.Schneider said that people can call ahead and make a reservation at any time to ensure they get a cab when it’s busy.“But, normally, people rarely have to wait for more than 10 minutes,” he said. “And that’s only on Saturday night at about 1 a.m.”To book a cab in Grand Forks call Sunny at 250-444-3333.Sidebar stats (ICBC)• During December, an average of five people are killed in B.C. each year in crashes involving impaired driving.• While attitudes towards drinking and driving have changed considerably over the years, an average of 95 lives are still lost each year and impaired driving remains a leading cause of car crash fatalities in B.C.• Every December, an average of 1,100 people are injured in 3,800 crashes in the Southern Interior.• On average, 31 people are killed in crashes involving impaired driving in the Southern Interior every year.• Crashes and injured victims from ICBC data (2008 to 2012); fatal victims from police data (2008 to 2012). Impaired is defined to include alcohol, illicit drugs and medicines.

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