Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Get home alive this holiday season

Operation Red Nose, cabs among options

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BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS 
SFlbOperation Red Nose volunteers (from left) Allan Kauk, Michele Rousseau and Janelle Asselin will brave the cold this holiday season to get partygoers and their vehicles home safely.

BORIS MINKEVICH Enlarge Image

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS SFlbOperation Red Nose volunteers (from left) Allan Kauk, Michele Rousseau and Janelle Asselin will brave the cold this holiday season to get partygoers and their vehicles home safely.

Connie Jaman lost her son to an alleged drunk driver three years ago, in an accident she said was 100 per cent preventable.

22-year-old Brett Yasinsky went out to go to the movies on the night of Nov. 10, 2010 and never came back.

He was killed in a car crash at Grassmere Road and McPhillips Street, minutes after leaving home.

"My son was a kind young man and an old soul; he was my rock," said Jaman. "I miss him more than I can find the words to say."

Jaman said if people can plan ahead and take advantage of a multitude of services in the city that help get them home, it can prevent these types of tragedies from happening in the future.

Winnipeg partygoers looking for a safe way to get home this holiday season have plenty of options to choose from. From free bus service on New Year's Eve to Operation Red Nose to taxi vouchers and gift certificates, Winnipeggers are left with no excuse to drink and drive.

According to Manitoba Public Insurance, there are about 40 people killed annually in alcohol-related collisions in the province.

One of the ways to avoid driving home drunk is by calling Operation Red Nose, run by Safety Services of Manitoba.

Anyone can call their hotline, and volunteers will be sent to pick you up from wherever you are and drive you home in your own car.

MPI has been a sponsor of Operation Red Nose for over 10 years. They're also sponsoring the city's free New Year's Eve bus service for the third year in a row.

"These tragedies are preventable," said MPI media relations officer Jeremy Sawatzky. "We want to promote responsible and safe activities, especially during the holiday season."

Sawatzky said the number of collisions goes up during the winter season, but can't say whether it is alcohol-related or simply due to the weather.

Allan Kauk has been volunteering with Operation Red Nose for 18 years. This year he's going to be out practically every night driving home boisterous partygoers.

"It's a lot of fun --you're always in a different car with different people, having interesting conversations," he said. "When you get to the party, everybody is always really happy to see you."

Kauk has even made some friends through the program. "You never know who you're going to be driving," he said.

Another way to plan ahead is to purchase gift certificates or vouchers from taxi companies such as Unicity or Duffy's.

Andrew Ross, general manager at Unicity, said they sell a lot more gift vouchers during the holiday season than the rest of the year.

"We see a lot of people who have left Manitoba buying these for their parents so they can get around during the holidays," he said.

The Winnipeg Police Service started its festive-season checkstop program at the beginning of December in order to prevent alcohol-related crashes.

Const. Stephane Fontaine said there is a bigger push for checkstops during the holiday season because the number of people partying increases the likelihood of drunk driving.

Fontaine said he's not happy with what he's seen so far this year.

"I have to say I'm disappointed seeing so many people driving impaired," said Fontaine. "Not only are they driving impaired but they're driving at almost twice the legal limit."

He encourages people to know how they're getting home ahead of time so they don't make the wrong decision and get into their car after they've had too much to drink.

veronika.gorlova@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 23, 2013 A6

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