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  • Writer's pictureTrevor Greenway

No excuse for holiday drinking and driving, or ever

It’s not typical for Patricia Gougeon to be sleeping at 2 p.m. on a Friday afternoon, but she needs all the rest she can get when she’s driving drunk people home all night.


Gougeon is a main organizer with Operation Red Nose — the ride service that will drive your drunk ass and your car home safely during holiday parties, corporate Christmas bashes and raucous New Year’s Eve celebrations this season.


According to Gougeon, more than 675 volunteer drivers offered over 1,300 free rides home last year, and the service has taken thousands of intoxicated motorists off the road since she took over as project manager in 2019.


“It’s really important because there are partiers all year round, but during the holidays there are Christmas parties and parties at work, so there are more parties and more people getting together,” said Gougeon. “With Operation Red Nose, we just add more service for people. It’s really important that people don’t take the wheel if they have been drinking or taking drugs or even if they are tired [since] it’s not only alcohol.”


Along with Operation Red Nose, there’s also the new Transcollines On-Demand service, which allows revelers to pre-book a taxi to drive them to and from a party.


With these two options, drivers in the Hills have no excuse to drive drunk or high this season.


“Now we are lucky because there are many services available for people who need to go back home,” said Gougeon, adding that the legalization of cannabis has added another element of intoxication behind the wheel. “Some people don’t drink, they use cannabis, but we just ask them to just think about it and don’t take the wheel.”


Operation Red Nose runs in Chelsea, La Pêche, Cantley, Pontiac and Val-des-Monts, and users can download an app on their smartphone or visit the website online at operationnezrouge.com/en. Users can book a ride and a team of three drivers will drive you – and your car – home.


Rides are free, however Gougeon said she wants people to think about what it would cost them to get home in a taxi and donate funds to the organization. Last year, Operation Red Nose Outaouais raised $35,000 for the Pat Burns Foundation, which awards scholarships to young athletes.


One hundred and fifty volunteer drivers have already signed up this year, but Gougeon said she is hoping more will enlist. To volunteer, visit bit.ly/3ioiKLC.

Transcollines On-Demand can also be booked for free throughout the holidays via their smartphone app or through the website: bit.ly/3gNEVKM.

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