A new SGI campaign is shifting perspectives by showing what the ‘other side’ of an impaired driving accident goes through after a crash.
Past campaigns have focused on the impact impaired driving has on the victims and families of those injured or killed in accidents.
This new campaign asks the question, ‘if you kill somebody as the result of impaired driving, could you live with yourself?”
SGI hopes that this message will make people thinking twice about their actions.
The campaign is being rolled out through the month of February in many media including T.V., online, and in movie theatres. Billboards as well as posters and mirror decals at licensed establishments are also part of the campaign.
On Thursday morning the campaign was unveiled by SGI, Minister responsible for SGI Don Morgan, and Linda and Lou Van de Vorst.
The Van de Vorst’s know firsthand what it’s like to lose loved ones as the result of impaired driving. Their son Jordan, daughter-in-law Chanda, and grandchildren Kamryn and Miguire were killed after an impaired driver struck their car on Jan. 3, 2016.
The couple relayed what happened the day police knocked on their door to tell them about the accident.
An emotional Lou described the moment police came to their house to tell them their son and daughter-in-law had died at the scene. The couple’s grandchildren were taken to the hospital.
“Our initial reaction was we have to get to the hospital to be with our grandchildren,” Lou said.
The couple received a call from a neurosurgeon who explained Kamryn was on life support and doctors were attempting a possible surgery on Miguire to relieve pressure on his brain.
“Ultimately…(it was) a long two days actually that ended with the death of both our grandchildren as well,” Lou said.
His wife Linda added that people don’t think something like this will ever happen to them.
“There’s just no thought until you get a knock at the door. It falls apart at that point,” she added.
The Van de Vorst’s have spent the last five years speaking with government officials and law enforcement to change impaired driving laws and participating in public service announcements like this new campaign.
In the one-minute ad, a man is seen drinking with friends. The man later picks up his keys to drive home despite his friends telling him he’s had too many drinks.
On his way home, the man hit and kills two children at a crosswalk. The video later shows the man sitting at the table with his own visibly upset family members.
The Van de Vorst’s appear at the end of the ad holding up a framed family picture of their lost loved ones. The couple makes a plea to drivers to make the right choice to get home safely.
Lou said the ad shows the other side of those impacted by an impaired driving crash.
“It’s what happened to the person that caused that crash and can that person live with themselves. They have to deal with that for the rest of their lives,” Lou said.
He calls the ad a powerful reminder of what can happen when someone drives impaired.
Minister Morgan hopes this ad campaign forces people to think about the consequences of impaired driving.
“Yes, there are stiff penalties such as a huge fine and license suspension but it’s also about feelings a person would experience if their bad decision killed someone else,” Morgan said.
“The guilt, the shame, a lifetime of regret. We don’t want anyone to find out what that feels like,” he added.
Morgan said the province doesn’t want anyone to lose their life to impaired driving.
He implores residents to drive sober or plan a safe ride home. He also encourages people to have that “awkward or difficult conversation” with a friend if you suspect they may try and drive impaired.
He also told residents to call 911 if you see someone on the road you suspect is impaired driving.
“It’s not snitching. It’s intervening and possibly saving that person from hurting themselves or others,” Morgan said.
Statistics show that impaired driving deaths are decreasing. Morgan said that in 2009 there were 65 deaths as the result of impaired driving. In 2016 there were 51, in 2017 there were 39, in 2018 there were 43 deaths and in 2019 there were 21 people who died in an impaired driving crash. The numbers for 2020 are not yet available.
Although the Van de Vorst’s are grateful the numbers have dropped, they say there is still work to do.
“Our job isn’t finished yet,” Lou said. “One death from an impaired driving crash is too many.”