WAYNE YOUNG: Hashtag to save a life

This holiday, remember #notsobernotdriving important warning

Wayne Young comments@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on December 17, 2016

Const. Rob Hartlen of the Kensington Police Service shares the social media hashtag #NotSoberNotDriving in this TC Media file photo. The police department is giving away prizes between now and Jan. 2 to anyone who uses the hashtag.

©TC Media file photo/Colin MacLean

‘ #notsobernotdriving because I don’t want to be someone’s worst nightmare of a cop knocking on their door to tell them their loved one was hurt or killed over a decision to drink and get behind the wheel … let’s hope no one gets that knock ever again.’ – Facebook post

If more Islanders than usual are talking about the perils of drinking and driving this holiday season, municipal police officers in Kensington might want to take a bow.

In a pro-active bid to discourage motorists from getting behind the wheel after having a few drinks, they’re asking everyone to use the social media hashtag #notsobernotdriving to say why they don’t drink and drive.

That gives them a chance to win an array of prizes including tickets to a Toronto Maple Leafs game and a taping of CBC’s satirical newscast This Hour Has 22 Minutes.

It’s a great idea that capitalizes on the recognition Kensington police got from their last effort to take the anti-drinking and driving campaign online a few weeks ago (including a sketch on This Hour).

A tongue-in-cheek Facebook post that threatened to “punish” impaired drivers in Kensington by playing Nickelback music in the back of the patrol car went viral before they opted to take it down. The anti-drinking and driving message was being overshadowed by jokes about the Canadian rock band. The post was replaced by an apology to band members and a teaser about the new holiday campaign that would “work to help many, not shun a few.” #notsobernotdriving was launched live online a few days later.

I applaud Kensington police for their innovative efforts to deter motorists from driving after they’ve had too much to drink. Given the steady stream of impaired drivers who make their way through the Island court system every week, it’s clear we have a problem.

Despite the reality of stiff fines, jail and suspension of driving privileges, too many drivers are still making bad choices. By choosing to get behind the wheel while impaired they endanger their own life and the lives of every person they meet on the highway.

Perhaps the conversation generated by the #notsobernotdriving campaign will prompt some to search more aggressively for a designated driver, or to take a taxi. Here’s some great advice from Shirley who wrote on the department’s Facebook page using #notsobernotdriving: “ Really people ... that extra glass of happy juice is NOT worth ruining or ending people's lives. Have fun ... but be responsible. Leave the keys at home.”

Maureen adds, “Or ensure that you have a nominated safe driver. You know you can have a great time not getting drunk. In fact, sometimes the last laugh is on you as the sober driver remembers all that went on, does not have a hang over, keeps his driver’s licence if stopped and gets to blackmail you if you have really misbehaved! Lol.”

Got a story? Kensington police would love you to share it using their hash tag. You could win a prize or better still, influence someone who needs to be reminded to drive responsibly. The campaign ends Jan. 2.

Happy holidays and remember this slogan written by someone far wiser than me: The driver is safer when the roads are dry, the roads are safer when the driver is dry #notsobernotdriving.



- Wayne Young is an instructor in the journalism program at Holland College in Charlottetown.