Operation Christmas, the annual campaign to reduce impaired driving during the holiday season, was launched today, Nov. 26, at the Kentville Fire Hall. Law enforcement agencies are targeting impaired drivers with checkpoints throughout the province. Vehicles will be stopped for enforcement and drivers will be reminded to not get behind the wheel after drinking. “Operation Christmas plays an important role in making our roads safer, particularly during the busy holiday season,” said Murray Scott, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal. “Cars are stopped and impaired drivers are taken off the road, which will, without a doubt, save lives.” “Operation Christmas is unique because it brings together many government departments and organizations working toward a common goal,” said Justice Minister Cecil Clarke. “I would like to thank everyone involved for their hard work and wish police agencies across the province a successful campaign.” Operation Christmas is a joint effort by government and police agencies to improve highway safety in Nova Scotia. “This road safety initiative shows the value of partnerships in achieving the common goal of providing awareness, education and enforcement of impaired driving,” said Mark Mander, Kentville Police Service chief. “Despite our collective efforts with checkpoints and education, we still have those who continue this senseless behaviour of impaired driving,” said Sgt. Rich Walkinshaw, Annapolis Valley Traffic Services. “Law enforcement agencies have come together at this time of year to once again share the message of getting home safe for the holidays.” Ninety-nine people were killed on Nova Scotia’s roads last year. Of that number, 32 were alcohol-related fatalities. Alcohol was the leading contributing factor to fatal collisions in our province last year. “MADD Canada is very pleased to be part of Operation Christmas again this year,” said Margaret Miller, national president of MADD Canada. “Area volunteers look forward to handing out MADD Canada’s red ribbons and asking motorists to make a commitment to safe and sober driving during the holiday season and all year.” Earlier this week, the province introduced some of the toughest legislation to fight impaired driving. The proposed legislation would increase the suspension time for people who blow between .05 and .08 on a roadside alcohol screening test. The project is one of several provincial initiatives to improve road safety, including developing a provincial road-safety strategy. The project also supports government’s priority to keep communities safe.