A longstanding program to curb impaired driving is cancelling its safe ride service for the first time in nearly 40 years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Operation Red Nose, which operates a service where volunteers will drive impaired people – and their cars – home, has been running since 1984. It began in Quebec, where it was founded by mathematics professor Jean-Marie De Koninck as a way to raise funds for the university swim team and reduce drunk driving.

Since then, the organization has begun operating in B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick.

“After careful consideration of the current public health situation and its logistical impact on the service, Operation Red Nose has decided not to provide its famous safe ride service during the 2020 holiday season,” executive director Jean-Philippe Giroux said in a statement Tuesday (Oct. 7).

” The decision was made after long and careful consideration, and not without emotion.”

However, the organization will launch an awareness campaign in November to encourage people to plan a safe ride home.

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