"Let's save those many lives moving forward."
That's from Bob Rorrison, a long-serving Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) volunteer, who is encouraging everyone to put the phone away and give up the keys if they're choosing to party this holiday season.
In Port Coquitlam this morning (Nov. 19), dozens gathered in Leigh Square for the official launch of MADD's Project Red Ribbon — a region-wide awareness campaign encouraging commuters to drive sober.
A candle was lit and officials, dignitaries and volunteers took part in a moment of silence to honour victims of fatal crashes involving impaired driving.
According to MADD Metro Vancouver, seven people have been killed on average each year this past decade resulting from those circumstances over the holidays.
"It reminds us to not drive impaired forever," Rorrison added during his speech at the campaign launch.
"I want to remind everyone to put [cellphones] away and lock them up in your car, turn them off or whatever you have to do. Also, do not drive impaired by any other means. It's so easy to call an Uber, it's easy to get a bus, it's easy to get a friend to drive that doesn't drink. It's so easy."
The significance of the red ribbon shows local residents' commitment to saying 'no' to impaired driving and serves as a reminder of those who didn't make it home.
Charlie Grahn, the treasure for MADD Metro Vancouver Chapter, said impaired driving crashes have many victims, including those who perish in the accident and their families.
He asked those assembled to remember Chloe Kaniusis, a mother of two, who was killed by an impaired driver in 2014.
Her mother was also in the car with the body of her daughter, trapped for three hours while waiting to be rescued by first responders.
“We’re thinking of her when we distribute red ribbons throughout the province,” he said.
MADD spokesperson Tracy Crawford explained Project Red Ribbon targets Christmas and New Year's because it's said to be the busiest time of year on most social calendars.
The ribbons themselves will be made available for the public on Nov. 27.
Coquitlam RCMP Supt. Keith Bramhill, who attended the event representing 244 Coquitlam and Port Coquitlam police officers said police will be out in full force watching for impaired drivers over the holidays.
In the past year, Coquitlam RCMP have investigated 76 impaired driving files, "that is 76 too many in my view."
With CounterAttack campaigns scheduled to start Dec. 1, Mounties will be out checking for impaired drivers over several days.
He warned that people arrested for impaired driving face many "sanctions," including "jail time."
"Driving impaired is not worth it," Bramhill said.
Port Coquitlam Mayor Brad West was also in attendance for today's announcement, and said it's important to remember the victims of impaired driving and to take steps to plan ahead if you plan to attend a social event.
"Behind each number is a person and a family who have had their life changed in an instant."
In addition to planning for a safe ride home, West encouraged people to call 911 if they suspect someone driving is impaired.
"It is our duty as a citizen to report impaired driving to police."
A representative from Uber was also on hand to encourage people to plan alternative rides home if they plan to drink alcohol or use cannabis at a social event.
Michael van Hemmen, the interim general manager of Uber Canada Rides, said there are several transportation options, including an Uber ride, transit and taxis.
"Your life is precious and the lives of those around you are precious," he said.
In addition to Red Ribbon campaign, four Vancouver landmarks will be lit up red: BC Place, Canada Place, Science World and the Burrard Bridge.