Published on December 15th, 2014 | by Guest Contributor


A Story of Impaired Driving by Anne Leonard

CAA would like to thank Anne Leonard, Executive Director of arrive alive DRIVE SOBER®, for letting us share her story about how impaired driving affected her life. As the title sponsor of the R.I.D.E. CHECKS booklet, CAA would like to remind motorists to drive sober this holiday season.

This year marks 35 years since Constable Dunlop (“like the tire, ma’am”) came to my house to tell me my husband had been badly injured in a car accident. My husband of just six months was on his way to work at 7 a.m. and an impaired driver crossed over four lanes and hit him head on. Life changed a lot after that.

His injuries were extensive, and his recovery (even with remarkable orthopedic surgeons) was long. He suffered twelve fractures to eight bones and had internal injuries that included his kidneys, liver, internal bleeding, and nerve and muscle damage to both eyes. The 1968 Skylark convertible and medical intern who stopped on his way to Toronto General Hospital were part of the reason he survived and recovered as well as he did. It took several years before he could work again.

I learned firsthand that impaired driving often causes serious and potentially fatal injuries. This is because impaired drivers see things where they aren’t (double vision), they fail to stop, fail to yield, fail to stay in their lane, and the list goes on. When I am asked to comment to the media about impaired driving, I will often close an interview with two thoughts: that the impact tends to be of greater magnitude because the driving involved is so erratic; and, that planning ahead is so important because impaired driving can’t be taken back. In fact, it is difficult to avoid being hit by an impaired driver as the driving involved can be so completely illogical and unpredictable.

Over the years a lot has changed. Research shows a fundamental shift in the attitudes towards impaired driving. Most of us do the right thing to drive sober; we plan ahead, have a designated driver, call home, stay overnight, and take taxis or public transit.

Many lives have been saved. Still every once in a while we hear about someone making the mistake of driving impaired – there is still some work to do.

On behalf of our charity, I would like to wish everyone a safe and happy holiday season. Make the right decision. Arrive alive, drive sober. Don’t drink and drive.

Since 2008, the R.I.D.E. CHECKS Rewards Booklet has selected arrive alive DRIVE SOBER® as its official charity recipient.

@drivesober #arrivealive

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