The work of Mid Canterbury’s first responders has been acknowledged with the launch of the district’s summer safety
Police, Fire and Emergency New Zealand, Hato Hone St John and tow truck drivers were thanked by Ashburton Community Alcohol and Drugs Service (ACADS), which works with road safety and community agencies each year to deliver a sober driving campaign.
Called Community Alcohol Action Project (CAAP), the campaign has been targeting drink driving in Mid Canterbury since 1993.
At its foundation, is the tragic fact that more than half of all people killed in car crashes in Ashburton District are under the influence of alcohol or other drugs at the time.
Andrae Gold of ACADS said she enjoyed being able to thank the first responders for their tough frontline work.
Some were able to make it in person to the launch, enjoying a morning tea shout.
Also in attendance were Ashburton mayor Neil Brown, deputy mayor Liz McMillan, Rural Support Trust’s Francis Beeston, Hakatere Multi-Cultural Council’s Mercedes Walkham, Wellbeing Ōpuke’s Valeska Scott, and the district council’s road safety team members Mark Chamberlain and Georgie Wilson.
Gold said drink driving-related road trauma placed an unacceptable burden on ambulance, police and the public health system.
Despite messages to not drink and drive, people still did this.
‘‘Many people claim they would never drive drunk, yet will get behind the wheel in an impaired state.
‘‘Local statistics inform us that 15- to 40-year-old men are still the most likely to be killed or hurt on our district roads,’’ she said.
‘‘Planning for a safe ride home, when you are going to be drinking alcohol, needs to be something we all just do.’’
Stepping in and stopping someone else from driving, if you know they are likely to be over the limit and a danger on the road, just needed to happen.
‘‘There is simply too much to risk, too much to lose.’’
The campaign included the continued use of sober driver champion, Bob the bear, with posters, pens and car air fresheners in every off-licence, hotel, and Warrant of Fitness and other associated workplaces around the district.
‘‘Alcohol-fuelled crashes between 2016 and 2020 cost New Zealanders $636,000 in lifetime ACC costs every day. That is a lot of money for a whole lot of hurt.’’
Gold said people needed to give serious consideration to the consequences of drink driving.
‘‘The facts are you can lose a lot more than your licence. You lose respect.
‘‘Drink driving doesn’t just affect those who do it, it impacts the lives of everyone close to them. Lives lost or long-term injuries that can bring generational trauma such as increased risk of anxiety, depression, heart disease and post traumatic stress disorder.’’