New Kelowna road signs encourage witnesses to report impaired drivers
Riley Russell made a responsible decision Jan. 13, 2012.
After her band rehearsal, she went to a friend's house to visit a couple of her friends who had been drinking. Upon her arrival, the friends indicated they wanted to go out to the bar. Since Russell had not been drinking, she quickly offered to drive them.
On the way home from dropping her friends off safely, Russell was hit head-on by an impaired driver.
"I broke both femurs, both ankles, both feet, my left orbital. I had a number of internal injuries as well as many lacerations and bruising," said Russell.
"I am still in a significant amount of pain…I've probably got another two to four years of healing to go."
Russell stood about 100 feet away from the scene of last year's crash Tuesday as she—along with Kelowna Mayor Walter Gray, RCMP members and Mothers Against Drunk Driving representatives—unveiled one of several Campaign 911 signs.
Campaign 911 is a public awareness initiative that encourages citizens to report impaired driving by calling 911.
"I chose for funds to go toward this campaign because I know a lot of my friends thought it was not appropriate to call 911, when they suspected (impaired) driving," said Russell, who also volunteers for MADD.
"These signs are there reminding people that even suspected impaired drivers are an emergency.
"It gives me some hope that maybe the impaired driving numbers will go down."
Wentworth Music supplied the majority of funding for the signs.
"Riley is one of our students at the music school. When she got hit by the drunk driver, we immediately wanted to help," said Noel Wentworth, vice president of education/media at Wentworth Music.
"We were already working on a concert and decided to make it in benefit of Riley and raise money for her. Riley decided all those funds we raised should go toward MADD—(specifically) Campaign 911."
The campaign began five years ago and is now in more than 70 community across Canada.
"This is a community involved program. What is so important is that the community can become part of the solution by calling 911," said Denis Dubyk, national president of MADD Canada.
"Impaired driving is 100 per cent preventable. It's the number one criminal cause of death in Canada—that needs to change."
Const. Kris Clark added Kelowna has one of the highest rates of police-reported impaired driving in the country.
"That really does speak to the need for community engagement and further education in regard to impaired driving and dangerous driving behaviours," said Clark.
"We encourage the public to call 911 for impaired drivers or suspected impaired drivers…if the person's driving behaviours are dangerous, call 911."
A total of twelve signs have been installed in Kelowna at the following locations:
- Eastbound Springfield Road, east of Gordon Drive
- Eastbound Springfield Road, east of Benvoulin Road
- Westbound Springfield Road, near Hollywood Road
- Westbound Springfield Road, near Spall Road
- Northbound Glenmore Road, north of Bernard Avenue
- Northbound Glenmore Road, north of Union Road
- Southbound Glenmore Road, south of McKinley Road
- Southbound Glenmore Road, south of Kane Road
- Northbound Lakeshore Road, near Hobson Road
- Southbound Lakeshore Road, near Hobson Road
- Southbound Pandosy Street, near Cadder Avenue
- Southbound Gordon Drive, near Cameron Avenue