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Mix rum with coke, not a car

Erika Sherk
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Dec 13/06) - There's nothing like a mug of rum-soaked eggnog, especially with the warm fuzzy feeling that comes from knowing you won't end up dead because of it.

Close to 1,000 people died in car accidents across Canada in 2003 and more than half were due to drunk driving.
NNSL Photo/graphic

John Cain, a volunteer with the St. Patrick's High School Students Against Drinking and Driving, holds open the door to a limousine they use for their Drive Home program - NNSL file photo

This Christmas season, much work is being done in Yellowknife to remind people that driving home drunk does not lead to a happy holiday.

"It's not worth it," said Const. Sheldon Robb of RCMP traffic services. "To either get charged with impaired driving or worse yet to injure or kill somebody. It's just not worth it."

The RCMP has already started checkstops all over the NWT, said Sgt. Ken Cooper of the Yellowknife RCMP.

It's not done to 'get' people, said Sgt. Cooper, it's a reminder.

"This is the festive season and drinking and driving is not the thing to be doing," he said.

The territorial government is also working to keep holiday revelers out of body bags.

National Safe Driving Week came to an end on Thursday - an initiative endorsed by the territorial Department of Transportation.

The week is intended to encourage those partaking in parties and celebrations not to mix alcohol with motor vehicles.

"Hosts can take a few small steps to ensure that their guests return home safely," Transportation Minister Kevin Menicoche stated in a press release.

Suggestions made include distracting guests with food, and making sure it has protein and fat in it - to help slow alcohol's effect on the body. Also, if encouraging guests to take a cab or sleep over does not work, the Canada Safety Council's website says to call the police.

"It may seem drastic but it could be the choice of an upset friend or far more drastic consequences," reads the site.

Getting a ride home after drinking is a sensible thing to do, but it can be tricky getting cabs when there are six or seven parties going on during any given weekend night in the city, said Michele Thoms, a teacher at St. Patrick's high school.

Thoms is the teacher advisor for Students Against Drinking and Driving (SADD) at the school. The group runs a Drive Home program that has become popular in the city.

In the past month, they have done 24 Drive Home projects in the city - meaning 24 different parties and events have had safe rides home for everyone attending.

"I think it's really good," said 15-year-old SADD member Alanna Menard, "because some people walk home and they're drunk and they fall into a ditch and end up dying or something."

Though the students don't get behind the wheel - parents and staff do the chauffeuring - they serve as ambassadors of responsible alcohol consumption.

"We talk to the people in the back about SADD and what they think of it," Menard said.

If the revelers in the backseat happen to be particularly lucky, that back seat can be awfully luxurious as well.

A limousine has been donated to St. Patrick's SADD for the past three years by Doug Witty and Bill Aho, who bought it for charitable purposes, according to Thoms.

"That has added a lot to our success, I believe," said Thoms.

And success means safety, said Menard.

"We're helping people survive," she said. "Drinking and driving is not the answer."