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Kelowna residents encouraged to dial 911 on drunk drivers

Riley Russell, a volunteer with Mothers Against Drunk Driving Canada and a victim of an incident involving an impaired driver, puts a Campaign 911 sticker on a Kelowna RCMP vehicle. The campaign is encouraging citizens to call 911 if they witness dangerous driving. - Wade Paterson/Capital News
Riley Russell, a volunteer with Mothers Against Drunk Driving Canada and a victim of an incident involving an impaired driver, puts a Campaign 911 sticker on a Kelowna RCMP vehicle. The campaign is encouraging citizens to call 911 if they witness dangerous driving.
— image credit: Wade Paterson/Capital News

It's fairly common to see motorists driving erratically on Kelowna streets.

But, according to local Mounties, it's less common for witnesses to phone 911 and report dangerous driving behaviour.

"The perception we've seen (is) that people aren't calling until it's too late. We want to stop that driving behaviour before it's too late," said Const. Kris Clark.

"We want to stop that offender to ensure their sobriety and to deal with their dangerous driving behaviour."

Kelowna RCMP will be participating in Mothers Against Drunk Driving Canada's Campaign 911 by affixing bumper stickers to marked police vehicles that read: Report Impaired Drivers, Call 911.

The city will also be putting up a few signs along major Kelowna roads that have a similar message.

According to Carol Fazekas, president of MADD Central Okanagan chapter, the program has had success in other communities throughout the country.

"This is a Canada-wide campaign that MADD started five years ago. It's in 70 communities across the country," said Fazekas.

The goal of the campaign is to change driver's perceptions by reinforcing the concept that police need to know when and where dangerous driving is occurring.

"It's really important to let people know that it is an emergency situation," said Fazekas.

"The police encourage people, if they see a crime, to call 911. If you see a suspicious person in your neighbourhood, call 911. This is a criminal offence, we want people to call 911."

The signs and bumper stickers are only one part of the campaign, said Fazekas. MADD also gives out material that informs citizens of what to look for when they suspect a motorist is impaired.

The 10 things to look for, according to that material, are whether or not the driver is:

- Driving unreasonably fast, slow or at an inconsistent speed

- Drifting in and out of lanes

- Tailgating and changing lanes frequently

- Making exceptionally wide turns

- Changing lanes or passing without sufficient clearance

- Overshooting or stopping well before stop signs or stop lights

- Disregarding signals and lights

- Approaching signals or leaving intersections too quickly or slowly

- Driving without headlights, failing to lower high beams or leaving turn signals on

- Driving with windows open in colder weather

Clark said RCMP members are still noticing high levels of intoxicated driving throughout the city.

"We're still seeing it. This is typically the season where we see a bit of an increase because people go to parties where they might indulge a little bit more than they typically do and then they're leaving themselves in a situation where they haven't prepared for a safe ride home," said Clark.

He added a recent CounterAttack enforcement handed out 24 different impaired driving suspensions over a period of a few hours.

"Dangerous driving behaviour is putting everybody at risk.

"We're just informing the public that they can become invested partners in road safety as well."

wpaterson@kelownacapnews.com

 

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