One of the most important safe driving messages of the holiday season is now being advertised by a brewer, Molson’s, which has put out a beautifully designed full-page ad encouraging readers to “Make this holiday memorable for all the right reasons…Don’t drink and drive.”
The Insurance Bureau of Canada promotes the same theme in a practical way, with a program called “Operation Red Nose”.
The “Operation Red Nose”ad campaign combined strong simple graphic images— the word “Zero” in black with the “o” a red sphere linking it visually to the red nose of the reindeer logo—with just enough text to explain the program and direct readers to: www.ibc.ca. There the reader learns that, “a person who feels unable to drive home after indulging in too many cups of holiday cheer — or who is just too tired to drive — can call Operation Red Nose to be picked up by a team of three volunteers and an escort vehicle.”
Clients are driven in their own vehicles to their destination. The escort vehicle follows and, at the end of the trip, takes the team of volunteers to another pick-up or back to headquarters.
Operation Red Nose is a confidential, free service that accepts donations, which are used to support local charities. Its roots date back to 1984 when Jean-Marie De Koninck, a university professor and coach of Laval University’s swim team, developed a free designated-driver service that accepted donations to fund athletic scholarships for student athletes.
Operation Red Nose developed with the support of the Quebec City police and a local Quebec radio station. In over 20 years, Operation Red Nose has expanded to more than 100 communities in Quebec, Ontario, Alberta and the Maritimes operating on most Friday and Saturday nights during the holiday season. Each community sets its own schedule of operation.
While these ads focus on drinking and driving, the need to keep repeating a seasonal warning about impaired driving generally was reinforced in a report on new research from the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, Canada’s national addictions agency. The CCSA analyzed data from the 2004 Canadian Addiction Survey [CAS], to “help fill the research gap between what we know about drugs and driving and what we know about alcohol and driving. The key findings are that:
- 4.8% of drivers responding to the CAS survey reported driving within two hours of using cannabis in the previous 12 months, a figure which has more than doubled since comparable studies done in 1988 and 1989.
- Males were 3.6 times more likely than females to drive under the influence of cannabis.
- People who reported driving under the influence of cannabis also reported consuming higher-than-average amounts of alcohol. This is significant, since combining cannabis with even small amounts of alcohol significantly increases the observed level of impairment.
This report is online at www.ccsa.ca.
Obviously, the advise “Make this holiday memorable for all the right reasons” needs to be repeated – a lot.