The OPP and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) joint effort known as the “Red Ribbon Campaign” kicked off Friday.

One of the items on display at their booth at Northgate Shopping Centre featured a poster of pictures of people who have lost their lives to impaired driving.

“It’s hard for me to look at that poster every time we put it up, but it motivates us to keep going,” Erin Celebre, the President of MADD Nipissing said. “Our committee in North Bay has a very strong support system for each other, but also for anyone who comes forward that needs support or wants to take part.”

“We see lots of pictures here, but multiply that by 1,000. It’s not just husbands and wives or children of the people who have been killed or suffering life long sentences whether it is physical or whatever has happened. Everyone is affected,” Celebre explains.

Allstate Insurance was also on hand to present a $1,000 donation to the Nipissing Chapter of MADD. Part of the launch was also a video game display where people could start off as sober drivers, before putting on googles to simulate being impaired with driving. Players would end up swerving across the roadway, and collide with other vehicles on the road.

“When people get behind the wheel, whether it is a car, ski-doo, boat, they feel invincible and no one is invincible,” Celebre stated. “One drink can affect us quite gravely. Despite how many drinks you have in your system if it is even one you shouldn’t get behind the wheel because you are not invincible and that is the bottom line.”

In 2019, impaired charges have been up in the North Bay area. 2018 featured 49 impaired charges, to the 55 this year with just over a month left.

“The numbers are going up which is the exact opposite of what we want,” Celebre said. “Despite our best efforts to get out there and educate people, raise awareness, and what that tells me is the message is not getting through. We will continue to advocate for all those who have been affected.”