MADD smashed car display brings home impact of impaired driving

Michael Oleksyn/Daily Herald Speakers and guests pose in front of the MADD smashed car display on Highway 2 on Thursday.

Drivers headed to the lake to start the summer will get an important reminder about the dangers of drinking and driving on their way north.

On Thursday, MADD (Mothers against Drunk Driving) Prince Albert, the Prince Albert Police Service, SGI and the City of Prince Albert unveiled a smashed car display on Highway 2 North. MADD Prince Albert director Karen Anthony-Burns said the display is an important part of getting the organization’s message out.

“It’s just such an impact, to see that and to see the real results from when people drive impaired,” said Anthony-Burns, who has been with the organization since it started in 2014.

“We know that there have been a lot of impaired crashes in our area over the years and there have been a number of lives lost,”

Anthony-Burns said the location on Highway 2 was a deliberate choice because it is visible to more than just local community members.

“This isn’t just (for) residents of Prince Albert,” she said. “There’s a reason we are on this highway. We are impacting the residents but we are also impacting visitors to our community, visitors to the lakes and the north.”

“There is a lot of people who will be traveling this road so we are really hoping that we can impact many of them,” Anthony-Burns said.

“We have to start somewhere to make a difference. This, to me, just feels so worth it, to be doing something to spare someone else any of that grief. It’s not anything I wish on anyone.”

Anthony-Burns said MADD considers the display to be a moving billboard. That means it will be in the same location for about a month before moving to two other locations—Highway 55 East just after exiting the off-ramp, and up by the tourist information centre on Second Avenue and Marquis Rd.

Prince Albert Police Inspector Brent McDonald said this display is another example of an initiative to make sure roads are safe.

PAPS has investigated 23 impaired driving files so far in 2022. In 2021, police investigated more than 100 impaired driving files. As well, the Report Impaired Drivers (RID) program has had over 500 calls so far this year. McDonald said that’s a little lower than normal.

On Thursday, his main message was that anyone who drives impaired you will be caught.

“Police will catch you,” he said. “We have the tools to detect consumption of alcohol and drugs available to us and we have some trained members to recognize people who are under the influence of not only alcohol but also drugs.”

McDonald said the display drives home the message about the dangers of impaired driving in a highly visible location.

“Obviously, this time of year there are a lot of people going to the lakes,” he said.

The vehicle was prepared by SGI and was not involved in an actual accident.

Thursday was an important day for MADD members like Anthony-Burns, who became involved with the organization after her son Daniel Carter was struck and killed by a drunk driver in September 2010 in Prince Albert. The driver was arrested about a week later after fleeing the scene.

“She hit him, she ran over him, she left the scene,” Anthony-Burns remembered. “They didn’t find her for a week. Impaired charges couldn’t be laid. They weren’t able because it’s a week (later). It was dangerous driving causing death with which she was charged.

“We did go through that whole process and I wouldn’t wish that process on anyone. If we can save anybody from going through that it’s so worth it,” she added.

Her son’s death has been the driving force behind her advocacy for MADD. Anthony-Burns said she felt it would be a good way to save other young people.

After Daniel passed away, MADD Canada, who did not have a Prince Albert chapter at the time, was supportive to the family and sponsored the family to attend a national conference.

Anthony-Burns said impaired driving can take place at any time of day.

“It’s always around and we hear about these charges throughout the province with other police departments as well from their checkstops and things on impaired driving,” she explained. “I think it is still really relevant and really important that we continue to have these conversations because in order to make a difference, I think that we all have to take ownership of this.”

Lyle Karasiuk of Parkland Ambulance and Deputy Mayor and Ward 7 Coun. Dawn Kilmer, who represented the city, also spoke at the event.