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Nez Rouge busier than ever, founder says

01/03/2013 04:16 EST | Updated 03/05/2013 05:12 EST
Opération Nez Rouge said this year's numbers reflect a change in drinking and driving attitudes of many Quebecers.

This year, the organization said more Quebecers were asking for help getting home after consuming alcohol.

The group of volunteers drove 65,391 Quebecers home safely after holiday celebrations over a 32-day period.

The organization drove a total of 87,761 Canadians living outside of the province home over the same period.

Jean-Marie de Koninck, the group's founder, said mentality has changed especially among younger people.

When Nez Rouge was founded 29 years ago, deaths due to drinking and driving in Canada represented half of all road accidents. Now, they have diminished to one-third, he said.

"I even heard some kids telling their parents 'If you go out, don't be afraid to call me. I'll go get you,'" said Koninck. "That's very encouraging because those young drivers will be adults one day and they will make a big difference in road statistics."

He said the organization's aim is to completely abolish the number of people who are intoxicated behind the wheel.

It said its mobile apps for iPhone and Android phones were frequently used. According to the organization 79,037 lifts were requested through the app across the country.

Quebec City police Capt. Denis Pelletier said authorities arrested half as many people for driving under the influence last December than they did the year before.

He said Nez Rouge helped control the situation across the province.

Mandatory breathalizers studied

The Quebec Road Safety Task Force said it will be spending some time this year studying a measure implemented in France last summer.

Drivers there are now required to have a breathalyzer kit in their vehicle.

De Koninck said mandatory kits will not curb the problem of drinking and driving.

"Why should you force some people who don't drink to have such a breathalyzer in their car?" he said.

De Koninck said the task force will look at the results of France's new guidelines and issue a series of recommendations for Quebec.

So far, he said it's too early to know if alcohol detectors will be worth enforcing in Quebec.

Cpt. Pelletier said mandatory breathalyzers may be a good idea.

"In our point of view, the more we enforce, the more people will be safe,"

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