Monthly Archives: August 2013

Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics

Am I the only person that has noticed that the statistics always show it as “Impaired Driving Deaths” and there is no number for “Killed by Impaired Drivers”?

I asked a coroner about that number so he explained it to me. (I have since asked several people in the medical, judicial, government about this to have it confirmed because I thought it sounded wrong but yes, this is how it works)

So to get this number for Impaired Driving Deaths here is what happens.  If a driver is killed, then they take their Blood Alcohol Level.  If it is Over.08, then they count as an Impaired Driving Death.  If it is a single car crash and they have a passenger, then it is counted.

If the driver survives and is Over .08, unless the Crown Attorneys decide to press charges for Impaired Driving Causing Death, then it counts as and Impaired Driving Death.  If they don’t press charges, then it doesn’t count.

So the only way to drop the number of Impaired Driving Deaths is if more drunk drivers survive and/or if less charges are pressed by the Crown Attorneys for Impaired Driving Causing Death.

It truly makes me wonder, as someone from Ontario, that if you consider that Ontario always has the largest number of road deaths but has the lowest number of Impaired Driving Deaths what is really happening????

I Meet Someone Everyday….

Last week we took our daughter, Hannah, and her cousin Maddie to Toronto.  Not having the same interest in Fan Expo that they did, on Friday John and I went down to Me to We to look into a trip for next year.

We had a lovely chat with a woman (M) that works there and we discussed possibilities for the trip and accommodations for me so that I could make the trip as well, without spending the whole time sucking back Tylenol and Ibuprofen out of a Pez dispenser.

Because of computer issues, several times she had to leave us alone and was incredibly apologetic for it.  Funny thing is we were happy because it gave us time to go over some of the logistics for The Empty Shoes Project (John is still worried that I will be disappointed with the number of shoes I get).

On one of the times that we were alone I told John that I wasn’t worried at all because I meet someone EVERYDAY that has lost a loved one or friend to a Drunk Driver.  Just after I said that to him, M (I didn’t ask permission to use her name so I will call her M) came back and mentioned that the Kenyan Boys Choir was going to be in the area this fall and would we be interested in hosting them.  John informed her that we had a busy fall (at least until the end of October).  I told her about Empty Shoes.  When I finished telling her, she paused, looked at me and said,

“I lost my brother to a Drunk Driver.”

EVERY DAY.  I hope for the day that I don’t meet someone that has lost a friend or family member to a drunk driver.  Then maybe I’ll feel like there’s hope for us.

The First Pair of Shoes Has Arrived

First shoes with fluffy pink borders and dragonfly logo

First Shoes

These are the first pair of shoes for Gracie.  Her Auntie Niki made them.  One is green because Gracie loved the musical Wicked and we had tickets to see it 4 days after she died.  Niki went in our place.  The dragonflies are for Gracie.  Many of you may know the Dragonfly story and we have found many dragonflies amongst Gracie’s things since the crash, so my family has adopted the Dragonfly for her. The pink marabou boa is just, well, it’s just Gracie.  We have pictures of her at 3 months old in a pink boa and she wore them all the  time.  In fact, our friends Marie and Paul brought a bunch for the family to wear to her memorial service at the hospital.  Thank you Niki.

I look forward to seeing more and posting more pictures and stories to show what we’ve all lost.

We can send a man into space…

A couple of months ago we were sitting in our house watching Chris Hadfield’s capsule land back on earth and a thought suddenly occurred to me – Why is it that we can put a man in space and yet we can’t  end drunk driving?

It’s funny,  I have been struggling with this idea for some time and how to use it.  It’s something that keeps running through my mind.

Finally, I started to type it out and then asked my husband, “What do I do with this idea that I have for a blog?”

He responded with, “You can’t do anything with it.  Basically you are trying to compare the best of humanity’s achievements with the worst of its’ depravity and injustice.”

I guess that’s what I do with that thought.  The best of Canada versus the worst of Canada.  Plain and simple.

Bill Bunk The Science Drunk – Sing this to Bill Nye’s theme song

Okay.  Today we’re going to talk a little science.  I know that’s a bad word in the courts, but bear with me here.  I looked up my favourite website for BAC to do this.  Hypothetically speaking, we have a 135lb woman drinking for, I don’t know, let’s say 3.5 hours at an event and she registers roughly .097BAC after stopping drinking for at least 2 hours.  How much did she really drink?

So I entered 135lbs, 5 drinks @ 5 oz per drink over the course of 3.5 hours.  2 hours after consumption, her blood alcohol level would read roughly .09something.

If tested immediately, her blood alcohol level would have read .129.

5 drinks @ 5 oz equals 25oz or 3 cups and 1 oz or 739.34ml (a bottle of wine is 750ml).

So here is the science experiment.

MATERIALS NEEDED:  1 empty wine glass from your cupboard, 1 half cup measuring cup (or 125ml cup), 1 tbsp (or 15ml spoon), 1 tsp (or 5ml spoon)

DIRECTIONS:

fill the half cup measuring cup with water and pour into wine glass

fill the tablespoon with water and pour into wine glass

fill the teaspoon with water and pour into wine glass

fill the teaspoon with water and pour into wine glass again

Look closely at wine glass.  That is one serving.  You should get 5 of those from 1 bottle of wine.

 

CONCLUSION:  Apparently the people working in the Canadian Court System learned a different math than the rest of us?????  Because supposedly it only takes 2-3 glasses of wine to reach this level according to most defence attorneys and the judges still believe them.

 

Alcohol Help Center (www.alchoholhelpcenter.net)

Based on the information you provided, we estimate that your Blood Alcohol Concentration is 0.129 g/100 ml.

Please note: This is just an estimate. Remember that many other factors (for example: your body type, age, sex, if you’ve taken any medication, how much food you’ve had to eat, etc.) can influence your BAC.

Your BAC of 0.129 g/100 ml means:

Right now, you’d be feeling gross motor impairment and a lack of physical control. It’d probably be hard for you to type on the keyboard and your monitor or mobile phone screen would appear blurry. Your judgment and perception of what’s going on would be severely impaired and any feeling of euphoria (feeling really good or really positive) you had earlier will have turned to dysphoria (an emotional state of agitation, unease or depression). You’d have gross motor impairment and a lack of physical control.

 

 

How long will it take before my body is alcohol free?

 

Estimated time to burn alcohol for a 135 lb Female with a BAC of 0.129
 

Your liver metabolizes (or burns) alcohol at a constant rate – about 1 gram per hour for every 10 kilograms (22 pounds) of body weight. Exercising or drinking coffee will not get alcohol out of your body any sooner.

Although you may not feel some of the effects of alcohol your body is working long after you drink to get rid of the alcohol in your system. Depending on how much you drink and your weight, your liver can be under extra strain for a very long time. This is one example of the health risks of heavy drinking.

What do other BAC scores mean?
If you’re interested in learning the differences between BAC scores, and how those different scores can effect you, see below:

0.00 – 0.01
You’re really not feeling the effects of alcohol right now.

 

0.02 – 0.03
You might feel a little more relaxed, perhaps a little light-headed. If you’re shy you might lose a bit of your shyness. The typical depressant effects of alcohol are not affecting you at this stage and you probably haven’t lost any of your coordination.

 

0.04 – 0.06
You’re probably feeling a bit relaxed or you might have a feeling of “well-being” or euphoria (feeling really good or really positive). You might feel a bit warmer than you usually do. Your behavior might be a bit exaggerated or your emotions might be a bit intensified. You’re probably feeling some impairment of reasoning and memory and since your level of caution is lower, it’s a bad idea to drive.

 

0.07 – 0.09
Although you can definitely tell you’ve been drinking, and you’re probably aware that you’re feeling some effects of alcohol, you might believe that you’re more alert than you really are. In reality, with a BAC of 0.07 – 0.09 you’ll be experiencing a slight impairment of speech, balance and hearing and your reaction time is reduced. Your caution, reasoning and memory are impaired, and your judgment and level of self-control are reduced.

Note: Many countries have laws that forbid people to drive if they have a BAC of 0.05 or more. Most countries have laws that forbid people to drive if they have a BAC of 0.08+. No matter where you live or where you are, definitely don’t drive – take a cab or plan to stay the night.

0.10 – 0.125
If your BAC is between 0.10 and 0.125 your speech will be slurred and your balance, vision, reactions time and hearing will be impaired. Your motor coordination will also be significantly impaired and you’ll have a loss of good judgment.

Note: No matter where you live, it’s illegal to drive. In fact, it’d be extremely irresponsible to drive anything at this point: including a boat, snowmobile, off-road vehicle – even a riding lawnmower. Not a good idea. Don’t even think about it.

0.13 – 0.15
Right now, you’d be feeling gross motor impairment and a lack of physical control. It’d probably be hard for you to type on the keyboard and your monitor or mobile phone screen would appear blurry. Your judgment and perception of what’s going on would be severely impaired and any feeling of euphoria (feeling really good or really positive) you had earlier will have turned to dysphoria (an emotional state of agitation, unease or depression). You’d have gross motor impairment and a lack of physical control.

 

0.16 – 0.19
You’ll probably start to feel sick to your stomach. Any euphoria (feeling really good or really positive) you had earlier will have turned to dysphoria (an emotional state of agitation, unease or depression). Right now you might look like a “sloppy drunk”.

 

0.20
If your BAC is 0.20, you’ll probably need help if you want to walk properly. If you fall down you probably won’t feel a lot of pain – even if you hurt yourself. At this level of BAC, some people begin to vomit. At the very least, you’ll feel dazed, confused and disoriented.

Note: At this point your gag reflex will be impaired. This means that if you’re lying down and you vomit, you could choke and die.

0.21 – 0.30
If you were awake at this point you’d have very little comprehension as to where you were or what you were doing. You might pass out suddenly and it’d be hard to wake you up.

 

0.30 – 0.35+
It’s possible that you might fall into a coma. You might die due to the paralysis of your diaphragm, the collapse of your lungs, or heart attack (any form of respiratory arrest).

Oh, those Crazy Canucks

A lot of people quote Einstein’s definition of insanity but that’s because it’s true :” Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”

If that’s the case, then we are all certifiable now. We’ve had almost 100 years of Impaired Driving Legislation  (1921) and yet we keep letting people drink and drive, campaigns keep telling us that it’s wrong to drink and drive, the Police keep arresting people (often multiple times) for driving drunk, the Firefighters, EMS, Doctors, Nurses keep putting victims of drunk drivers back together, if they even can, the Coroners keep doing autopsies on the victims and the Courts keep…….and the Politicians argue what to do.

Next year I will  probably write this exact same blog. And I am fully prepared that next year I will be taking the shoes to Ottawa again.

And yet, every year the numbers go up.  Why???

Perhaps it’s time to do something – anything- different.

Why do I get the sinking feeling that I am going to be much older and much greyer before the insanity ends?

 

Really?????

 

 

 

Bookmark and Share

Sorry.  I know that this is 2 posts in the same day but I just read this on my nephews Facebook and I think that the councillor, the defence attorney and the judge may have just answered my question as to what is wrong with this system????  And to the Waterloo Regional Police Officers – please don’t stop laying charges just because they are time consuming and don’t seem to go anywhere.  You are trying to protect people, like Gracie, from this crime – and yes, it is a crime, not a mistake or accident.  Never forget that.  Do politicians have a “morals clause” in their employment contracts???
Aug 22, 2013  |

 Vote 0   0

Cambridge councillor denies drinking caused minor crash

Pam Wolf

Robert Wilson,Record staff

Cambridge Coun. Pam Wolf

KITCHENER — A Cambridge city councillor accused of impaired driving insisted Thursday that she felt “totally fine” before crashing into a car at a red light last fall.

Pamela Wolf, 62, testified she’d only had three glasses of wine over a period of several hours when she left an event at Bingemans in Kitchener to drive home.

“I was consciously trying to limit my drinking,” she told Kitchener court after pleading not guilty at the outset of her trial.

Wolf was trying to make a right turn from Victoria Street on to Fountain Street just outside Kitchener about 9 p.m. on a rainy Friday night in November.

Her car slid and hit the back end of an SUV waiting at the intersection, causing about $3,500 damage to the two vehicles. Nobody was injured.

“I was stopped and I thought ‘Oh, no,’ ” said Laura Martin, the driver of the SUV, describing how the oncoming car seemed to be going too fast. “I just heard ‘crunch.’ ”

Wolf, a member of city council since 2006, was charged with impaired driving and driving with more than 80 milligrams of alcohol in her blood.

Tests taken by police more than two hours after the crash produced readings of 97 mg and 93 mg, clearly but not dramatically over the legal driving limit.

Also a former NDP candidate in federal and provincial elections, Wolf testified she learned a lesson and hasn’t had a drink before driving since the crash.

But she offered innocent explanations for signs of impairment noted by two police officers who dealt with her, including unsteadiness on her feet and bloodshot eyes.

Wolf said she was wearing “very high heels” that accounted for her difficulty walking in a gravel parking lot when the first officer arrived on the scene.

As for her eyes, she said it was the end of a long day after joining a political demonstration with teachers, visiting her mother in a nursing home and attending an awards ceremony on behalf of the city.

Wolf denied her drinking contributed to the crash, blaming it instead on worn tires on her car and the fact she had been having problems with “depth perception” while driving at night.

Crown prosecutor Tony Sferruzzi was incredulous at her testimony that she had just three glasses of wine — one with teachers at a bar after their demonstration hours earlier and two over the course of several hours at the Bingemans event.

He asked for an adjournment so a toxicologist could give evidence that the 135-pound woman must have consumed much more alcohol, but was turned down by Justice John Lynch.

“There is no way in the world two glasses of wine caused those readings,” Sferruzzi said, arguing it called the credibility of her entire story into question.

Martin, the other driver, also testified Wolf offered to pay for the damage herself so police and insurance companies wouldn’t have to get involved.

By the time they agreed to handle it themselves, however, an officer was already on his way and they waited for him to arrive.

Wolf was on the phone discussing the need to involve authorities with fellow city councillor Frank Monteiro, a retired officer, when police showed up.

Defence lawyer Mark Parrott argued the drunk-driving charge should be dismissed since Wolf gave plausible explanations for both the crash and her supposed signs of impairment.

Parrott challenged the over 80 mg count on technical grounds, saying her readings should be excluded as evidence because police took longer than “reasonably practicable” to give her breathalyzer tests.

Lynch reserved his ruling until October.

 

bcaldwell@therecord.com

“Get me those shoes” – Wizard of Oz

Okay, I am starting to feel like the Wicked Witch of the West or Imelda Marcos (please don’t reply that you don’t know who either of them are – I am already feeling very old)

The truth is that I really need shoes from people.  I have heard from a few of you but if we want to make an impact, I can’t really show up in Ottawa with 30 pairs of shoes.  I want to be overwhelmed (I can’t believe that I am saying that) with the number of shoes that show up.  I want to struggle with the logistics of where to store the shoes, how to get the shoes to Ottawa, and where to put them in Ottawa.

I am looking for shoes representing victims and survivors.  I have a picture in my head of building a quilt of shoes for each victim/survivor.  If you look at the AIDS quilt, each victim of the disease had a whole quilt with multiple panels done by friends and family and then all of the quilts were combined.  Instead of 1 foot square panels used to make each person’s quilt, I would like to put a pair of shoes there.  That way we can give a full picture of the victim/survivor from all of their family and friends’ perspectives.

Until now, I have not posted where the shoes can be sent (mostly because I wasn’t sure yet).  Thank you to my sister (and the women that work for her).  She has agreed that the shoes can be sent to her business so that someone will be there all day to receive them.  She was away and I didn’t want to voluntell her.  I suspect that I will be voluntelling a lot of my family and friends for jobs before this is over.

So, if you are sending shoes please send them to:

Empty Shoes Project

c/o The Storage Place

381 Clyde Road

Cambridge, ON

N1R 5S7

 

Instructions for shoes.  Please make sure to use a permanent marker to put their name on the shoes (bottom, tongue or inside).  Please send a picture to go with the shoes.  Please send a note about the victim/survivor and perhaps a little bit about what the shoes reflect about the person for you.  As an example, I think that I am going to decorate Gracie’s flippers. Also, please don’t send me anything sentimental.  I can’t promise that I can get the shoes back (in fact, please don’t expect them back).  I wouldn’t want to promise something that I couldn’t follow through on.

If you want to help out but haven’t lost someone to this crime, then perhaps find someone that wants to send shoes and offer to pay for shipping if they can’t afford to.  And the shoes do not have to be new.  My sister has 4 kids that all want to send shoes for Grace and so my sister is going to go through their shoe closet and use their shoes to decorate.  Marker, stickers, sequins and glitter can cover a lot of wear and tear.

I know that there are a lot of us out there.  This needs to change.  My short term goal is to make a big impact with the sheer number of shoes that I display.  My long term goal is to never need to receive another pair of shoes.  This is one job that I hope to work myself out of but I can’t do it alone.

The High Cost of…..

 

I recently read a newspaper article where the reporter suggested that we are paying too much money on RIDE programs and other programs to prevent/catch drunk driving/drivers.

You may be surprised to hear that I don’t disagree with the sentiment.  I grew up in a family business and survival depended on always checking to make sure that the costs were worth the benefits.

So let’s just take a look, shall we.

We currently spend between $20-$25 Billion EACH and EVERY year cleaning up the mess AFTER Impaired Drivers. (health care, courts, EMS, fire department rescue, police,….)

Most anti- Impaired Driving campaigns are funded privately now.  So, we that leaves the RIDE programs that are publicly funded for prevention.

I recently found a police statistic (6 months of searching) that stated that there were 635  victims of Impaired Drivers in 2008. (a number which is only going up)

(to the best of my knowledge, the police are the only group/organization that keeps records for the number of victims killed as opposed to Drunk Drivers killed.  Everyone else estimates)

So, I guess that the reporter was right.  What we spend on RIDE programs is a lot for 635 victims.

Of course, that same year the same police report had the number of all other forms of homicide combined was 611.

I suppose that if we really wanted to save money perhaps we should only lay homicide charges if the weapon of choice is alcohol and a vehicle.

Balancing Act

Some people have asked me how I can still have a sense of humour.  Well, first it’s because of Grace.  She had a wild sense of humour and I would be disrespecting her memory not to share it with people.  And second, because if I were to ever stop laughing, I would start crying and never stop.   As those of you in my shoes (shoes again) know, it hurts to breath most days much less live.

But I will say that it is a delicate balancing act.  It’s a bit like writing a book every day.  Do I write a novel that you can sit and read at your leisure.  Something that makes you laugh, makes you cry, makes you think.  Or do I write it as a textbook; educating you quickly with names, dates, facts, figures, and statistics making you feel like you’re drowning in new information.  Or do I simply take the book and “whap you upside the head with it until you get it”.

Like I said, it’s delicate.

My hope is to make you think;  perhaps to change your perspective.  Sometimes the best way will be to use humour.  Sometimes the best way will be to provoke tears.  Sometimes  you will be overwhelmed by the “information dump” that I lay at your feet.

You’ll know that I’m having a really bad day if I type instructions only –

  1. Unplug computer.
  2. Close lid if using laptop.
  3. Firmly grip computer with both hands
  4. Lift computer forcefully, bending at the elbows, until you meet resistance (your forehead)

And please feel free to comment on any of my blogs.  It’s feeling a little lonely out here.  And also, please pass along the website to 25 people (at least) that you know.  Word of mouth seems to be the best way to get the word out and just because you may not have been affected, I can guarantee you know someone that has.  Please help me with this.