Posted by VI Hughes on Aug 28, 2019
This past Tuesday we heard from Brenda Johnson, the National Board Chairperson of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). Brenda is also currently the President of the Parkland County Chapter of MADD. Brenda told us a little of her personal journey as the mother of a victim of an impaired driver. Thirteen years ago, she lost her son in an accident caused by impaired driving, so she knows first-hand the long lasting effects that an accident like this can have on a family.
 
MADD Canada was founded in 1989 with a mission to stop impaired driving and to support both the victims and the families of those affected by impaired driving (whether from alcohol or drugs). They now have over one hundred chapters across Canada with seventy-five hundred volunteers. Brenda said that there were sixty-five thousand people who were impacted by impaired driving in Canada last year.  This averages out to four people killed each day in Canada which makes impaired driving the leading criminal cause of death in Canada. They estimate that one in ten drivers on the road today are impaired in some way and expect the numbers to go up to three in ten with the legalisation of cannabis. Their areas of focus cover victim/survivor services, youth services, public awareness and education, public policy and the use of technology to stop impaired driving.  
 
MADD Canada conducts research and constantly lobbies for policy changes to government legislation that will lower these numbers.   MADD Canada has a lot of legal people, scientists and health professionals as advisors to help them with this. Some of the changes they have lobbied for in the past that are now making a difference are graduated licensing for new drivers, and more recently the passage of Bill 46 in March of this year, the new impaired driving law which brings in screening for three new drug related driving offences.  They estimate that this new legislation took three hundred and fifty impaired drivers off the road in June alone. They are currently partnered with other organisations to bring in other new programs related to the sale and use of Cannabis.
 
They sponsor may different educational campaigns and public service announcements to educate the public and also work closely with both national and local law enforcement personnel to provide both information and support. They also run many different types of fund raising campaigns across the country and locally. In addition, they sponsor a yearly national conference which is held in September each year. This year the focus of their conference is to educate law enforcement services about the effects of cannabis. Her local group is sponsoring attendance for three local law enforcement personnel to this conference.
 
In closing Brenda said that we need to remember that driving is a privilege, not a right. We would like to thank Brenda for taking the time to present this very informative and interesting talk.