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Safe And Sober Canada in The News
Written by Gary
Ryan Pfeiffer / Metroland
DURHAM -- A local man who lost his 21-year-old daughter to drunk driving is hoping his charity will prevent other young people from falling victim to the same fate.
It's been almost three years since Blair Carter's daughter Melanie headed out to a party with friends, her keys left at home, with no plans to drive. But later she ended up behind the wheel, deciding to drive her impaired friend's car, even though she herself had been drinking.
Ms. Carter lost control of the car on Taunton Road in Whitby and was killed.
"People think this is the kind of thing that happens to someone else, not to them, or their family," Mr. Carter said.
The loved ones Ms. Carter left behind have spent the time since her death struggling to come to terms with such a senseless tragedy, talking about how to honour the young woman's all too short life and ensure that her death wasn't in vain.
About a year ago, Mr. Carter, his brother-in-law and Ms. Carter's best friend decided to start a charity called Safe and Sober Canada. Its mandate is to educate the public -- especially young people -- about dangerous driving.
While drunk driving is a focus, Mr. Carter said highlighting the impact of drugs, cellphone use and other impairments is equally critical.
The fact alcohol is a factor in about 40 per cent of traffic fatalities involving 16- to 19-year-olds, and nearly 50 per cent involving 20- to 24-year-olds, is a clear indication that the message isn't getting through, Mr. Carter said.
"Kids have heard this all before, so their ears aren't open," he said. "They listen to these presentations in the schools so they can get out of class for an hour, but it's not really sinking in."
He hopes Safe and Sober Canada will change that, with an approach that is more aggressively tailored to youth. The plan is to create an interactive website and harness technology that speaks to young people, such as social networking and texting, to get the message out.
Mr. Carter said telling his daughter's story is also key, because youth will likely relate to her age and the circumstances of her death.
The ideas are all in place but Mr. Carter said community support is needed to help make Safe and Sober Canada a success.
The charity is putting the call out for anyone who can help build the website, design and print literature and organize an upcoming fundraiser. Donations of cash, expertise, materials and volunteer time are all welcome.