Despite Tuesday’s less-than ideal weather, many Maritimers are still expected to get out and ring in the New Year. However, one Nova Scotia MLA is hoping people will stay safe no matter where they celebrate – and learn from her loss.
"It doesn't need to happen – ever. So, I think people need to think ahead, be responsible – make sure that they don't become part of a statistic,” says East Hants MLA, Margaret Miller, who knows first-hand what it’s like to lose a loved one to an impaired driver.
In 2004, Miller experienced every parent’s worst nightmare when she lost her 26-year-old son, Bruce.
"15-years ago, our son was a Springhill police officer, and he was killed by an impaired driver," says Miller.
Miller remembers her lost son fondly.
"Bruce was the kind of guy that, when he walked into a room, eventually people would always love him. He was 6-foot-3 and had a big, easy-going smile – he could be pretty serious as well,” says Miller. “He was just so full of life, and he had so much to look forward to. He always said it was the best job in the world."
Unfortunately, Miller’s story isn’t unique. Mothers Against Drunk Driving says hundreds of Canadians are killed and tens of thousands are injured in crashes involving alcohol or drugs every year. Their message is simple: don't drive impaired or get into a vehicle with someone who is impaired.
"Unfortunately, still today, 4 Canadians are killed every single day in impairment-related crashes and about 175 are injured in an impairment-related crash,” says MADD Canada Atlantic regional director, Anissa Aldridge. “The numbers are flabbergasting, and they need to change, and we need to make a difference together."
With celebrations expected to be in full swing on Tuesday night, RCMP say they will be making a concerted effort when it comes to patrolling for impaired drivers and are reminding people to plan ahead.
"If you are going to be celebrating, don't be driving if you've consumed alcohol or cannabis,” says Nova Scotia RCMP Corporal, Lisa Croteau. “Make sure someone else drives for you that is sober. Either take a taxi or just stay the night where you are at."
Meanwhile, Miller hopes people will make the right decision and think before they get behind the wheel impaired by drugs or alcohol – on New Year's Eve and year-round.
"Do you want your legacy in your family to be that you killed somebody driving drunk?” says Miller. “Do you wanna know that there could be somebody out there that has lifelong injuries because you decided to drink and drive?"