Now Playing What just played?



Listen Live

May long weekend is almost here, and with it come some safety concerns about driving responsibly.

A longtime problem

"Impaired driving in Manitoba is a huge problem and it has been for a very long time," says Denise Elias, president of Winnipeg's Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).

She says that while there has been a slight decrease in impaired driving by alcohol over the years, combinations of alcohol and drugs, and drugs alone, especially marijuana, have increased; a problem MADD believes might increase the fatality statistics associated with impaired driving.

This decrease in driving incidents due to alcohol, however, have taken almost a generation to decrease. MADD hopes current legislation against driving drunk will be soon extended to all forms of impaired driving, and that as a result, impaired driving incidents will decrease much faster than before.

"We're hoping that it won't take long for people to realize that marijuana does not make you a better driver," Elias says.

She notes that marijuana especially can act as a depressant, giving drivers slower reaction times to emergency situations, that can quickly turn fatal.

With the May long weekend coming up, and the newly-lifted ban on liquor consumption in provincial parks, Elias is not fearful of an increase in fatalities due to impaired driving situations.

"I think people are wise, they need to plan ahead in time," she says. "If you're going to be driving home and you're camping and you are having alcoholic beverages that day, make sure there's another more sober adult who can drive."

Currently, individuals caught driving impaired face a three-day license suspension, while those caught travelling with individuals under the age of 16 who are impaired will face a seven-day suspension.

Those who plan to consume marijuana are asked to wait at least four hours before attempting to drive, and marijuana consumed alongside alcohol require that a more sober adult be present and available to be in operation of any vehicles.

Drunk driving applies to all motor vehicles

Long weekends often mean the first opportunities of the year to bring boats and other recreational vehicles out of storage, presenting another side of the concern with impaired driving.

According to the Canadian Criminal Code, a motor vehicle is any vehicle drawn, propelled, or driven by any means other than muscular power, a definition that includes all types of motor vehicles on land or water.

Elias doesn't believe that the dangers of drinking and boating are getting through to the public.

"About 150 people die each year because of impaired boating, and it is illegal to have alcohol on a boat unless you have a full functioning washroom [and] you have facilities to keep and serve food," she explained, also attributing the added difficulties of sun, heat, and water in combination that distort individual depth perception and add to the hazards of boating while impaired.

Regardless of the vessel, impaired driving is a serious problem to consider in all situations. It's an issue that's heartbreaking and preventable, and why Elias says their mandate is to stop impaired driving and to support victims of that violent crime.

"If you've ever been a victim of impaired driving, you understand that it is a violent crime," she says.

"You can cause an impaired crash and can cost a life... and every impaired crash that results in a death is a needless death... "In Canada, we lose 4 people every day and hundreds are injured every day, and some for life," explains Elias, "and it's all preventable"

Teenagers fighting against drunk driving

Hope Manness is part of the Teenagers Against Drunk Driving (TADD) team at John Taylor Collegiate in Winnipeg. Her mother lost a friend in high school because of drunk driving and Manness believes it needs to be talked about more.

"I think it's important because it can happen to anyone around us," she said.

Manness, 16, is close to getting a license herself and understands the importance of control behind the wheel.

"Driving is a privilege and you have to earn it," Manness stated. "It can be taken away so easily by something so stupid."

Teenagers need to hear from other teenagers about this issue, Manness said, but admitted it was tough. Kids don't always want to listen, which is why Manness will ask others to put themselves in the shoes of someone who lost a kid, friend, spouse or parent to a drunk driver. Then she asks others to imagine they are the ones who took that persons life.

"How would they feel if it was them that did that?" Manness asked.

Manness commends those who have the courage to say no to driving after they have had a drink, or who ask someone to come pick them up.

"Think about your family"

The MADD President recommends that this long weekend, you listen to the person next to you about whether or not you're fit to drive after drinking.

"Most of all, plan ahead, but if you don't do the planning ahead, please do not drive," Elias asks. "Even though you may feel as though you're capable of driving, the answer is probably that you are not," she says. "Your life is valuable as is everybody else's life on the road.

"Think about your family, think about your friends, think about yourself."

Nationally broadcast choir show back for one day only

Dozens of performers from the popular Canadian TV show Hymn Sing are reuniting for one…

Female trailblazers honoured at Legislative Building

A new project to celebrate women who have paved the way for future generations was…

Several stabbings in Winnipeg since Friday

Winnipeg police have responded to eight stabbings with eleven victims in the past four…

How to get your kids back on a school sleep schedule

As the school year draws near, getting back into a good sleeping routine can take time…

Fire destroys Crystal City elevator and business

A fire has destroyed two buildings in Crystal City, including one the community's grain…

North End blaze under control, no injuries reported

An early morning fire has destroyed a North End home.

Manitoba celebrates 20 years of diversity through Provincial Nominee program

On the heels of Folklorama, the Legislative Building hosted a diversity celebration…

New resources for caregivers

Bernice Peichl has been going to support group meetings for over a decade.

Folklorama sees increase in guests

The 49th edition of Folklorama saw more guests than the 48th.

Local harvest helping fight world hunger

Harvest is underway and, despite the lack of rain this summer, is making the Foodgrains…

Goertzen to explore significant changes in education

New Education Minister Kelvin Goertzen says the Manitoba government is exploring…

Future of MCC falls into hands of new generation

Thrift shop stores in Manitoba are putting their fate in the hands of the next generation.

Small town festival attracting big names

One weekend every year, a town of just over 1,000 quadruples in size, attracting some of…

Winnipeg or Bust: Boler trailer enthusiasts set up shop over the weekend

Tiny trailers filled the Red River Exhibition grounds just outside city limits this…

Severe thunderstorm warnings in Manitoba

Some areas of Manitoba are now under severe thunderstorm warnings.

Santa Claus Parade hinges on raising money for new float

The Santa Claus Parade is fundraising for a new float.

Police respond to six firearms calls within two day span

Winnipeg Police officers responded to five calls involving guns during a 24-hour period…

Meth increase requires no change in policing

With the recent increase in violent crime in Winnipeg, especially as a result of the…

MPI says fraud on the rise, so it's fighting harder

Manitoba Public Insurance is stepping up its game in the fight against insurance fraud.

The Pas' water situation upgraded

UPDATE: People in The Pas are now being told they can safely consume the town's water,…