People living from Fruitvale to Rossland can expect to see more road checkpoints set up as we enter the holiday season.                                Black Press file photo

People living from Fruitvale to Rossland can expect to see more road checkpoints set up as we enter the holiday season. Black Press file photo

‘Planning a safe ride home is key,’ says Greater Trail RCMP

The Kinsmen Club of Trail (and Castlegar members) offer a Safe Ride Home program

The CounterAttack message is not just for Christmas time and New Year’s Eve – police patrol year round for drivers under this influence.

That said, Greater Trail RCMP have pulled more impaired drivers off the road during past holiday seasons – so efforts and road blocks will be ramped up this month.

“We do find, historically, because of cooler weather and poor weather, such as rain and snow, that people tend to drive more,” Acting NCO , Cpl. Devon Reid told the Trail. Times. “And we generally get an increase in incidents of possible impaired driving this time of year, so we enforce it more.”

Between local police cruisers and the West Kootenay Traffic Services, people living from Fruitvale to Rossland can expect to see more road checkpoints set up.

“They will be in different places around town and at different times,” Reid added. “And we do have members from our traffic section in Nelson that will come into towns and set up road checks as well.”

ICBC reports, on average, 66 people die every year in crashes involving impaired driving. Almost 60 per cent of impaired-related crashes happen Friday through Sunday, with 40 per cent of those taking place between 9 p.m. and 3 a.m.

Notably, 70 per cent of all impaired drivers are male, and 28 per cent of impaired drivers are aged 16 to 25.

Planning a safe ride home is key. Within Trail there are the last-minute options of calling a cab at Trail Taxi or Cedar Taxi. The preferable measure is proactive, and available through the local Safe Ride Home program provided by the Kinsmen Club of Trail.

“We are a service group of volunteers,” says Mae Kruger. “Our motto is, “Serving the Community’s Greatest Need.

“And we find, in the winter, the greatest need is a safe ride home.”

The charitable organization is not a taxi service, she clarified.

“Our whole purpose is to make sure everyone is home safe with their vehicle,” she added. “We take you and your vehicle home. We’ll go into the vehicle and drive it and you home, then a chaser will follow to pick us (Kinsmen driver) up.”

For more information on the Safe Ride Home program available from Trail to Salmo, including rates and bookings, contact Mae Kruger at 250.367.7990 or email maekay@telus.net. In the Castlegar area, contact the Kinsmen’s Safe Ride Home program at 250.687.0149.

Sgt. Chad Badry from the RCMP West Kootenay Traffic Services reminds drivers that December is the Provincial Winter Counter Attack Impaired Driving Campaign.

“The public should expect police to focus on impaired driving during the entire month and see road checks popping up at all times of the day and night in locations throughout the region and the entire province,” he told the Trail Times. “Impaired driving remains one of the top three contributing causes to crashes is our area as it is throughout the province along with Distracted Driving and Speed,” he emphasized.

“People need to plan ahead and ensure they never get behind the wheel of any vehicle if they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.”

B.C. has the toughest drinking and driving laws in Canada, advises ICBC.

Impaired drivers can face penalties such as driving suspensions from 24 hours to 90 days, vehicle impoundment, fines from $600 to $4,060, jail time, mandatory rehabilitation and installation of an ignition interlock.

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