Allison Tatham – Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Canada
By: Brianna MacLean

On June 8th, 2014, Allison Tatham received a call from her mother telling her that she needed to come home immediately. What she was told next would change the trajectory of Allison’s life forever: at 7:00 AM that morning, her father’s car was hit at a red light by an impaired driver, killing him instantly.

“From that moment, I knew that this was a cause that was going to be very important to me, and I knew that I needed to do something more.”

Allison’s story is tragically a familiar one. While the number of alcohol-induced collisions has overall dropped during the last 30 years, statistics show that the number of impaired driving collisions caused by the consumption of drugs such as cannabis increased by nearly 20% between 2019 and 2020. Impaired driving continues to be the most prominent cause of road crashes, injuring and killing more innocent people than any other violent crime. It is estimated that in Canada alone, nearly 63,000 people are injured, and 1250 to 1500 are killed in impairment-related incidents caused by drugs and alcohol on an annual basis. And for every person who loses their lives to an impaired driver, a loved one is left behind to pick up the pieces.

“We all think we’re the exception, that it couldn’t happen to us. People can understand it and the devastation that it can have on a family; but when it happens to them? That’s when it clicks; that’s when it becomes important.”

The Canadian branch of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) was originally founded 1989 with one mission in mind: To stop impaired driving and to support victims of this violent crime. These founders were all victims or survivors themselves, brought together through the real-life devastations caused by impaired driving and the mutual desire to inspire genuine change in both legislation and in the lives of Canadians as a whole. For the last 35 years, MADD Canada has grown to include thousands of volunteers across over 100 chapters nationwide, creating a national community dedicated to supporting the victims and survivors of impaired driving and raising public awareness.

“I really don’t know what I would have done without them. It’s an amazing, amazing community where I can cry when I need to, laugh when I need to, or remember with happiness and joy rather than just sadness.”

Allison’s journey with MADD Canada began the day after she lost her father; she got in contact with a Victim Services Manager who immediately offered her support and several resources to help Allison and her family navigate their new reality. Upon her return to Alberta, Allison took the next step as an active volunteer with MADD Canada, where she could share her story and experience as both a paramedic and a victim of impaired driving in schools. These presentations are an essential initiative in MADD Canada’s mission to increase public awareness of the real-life dangers of driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol, especially among young people. The longest running and most well-known of these public awareness initiatives is Project Red Ribbon, MADD Canada’s annual campaign to support and promote sober driving during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. From November 1st to January 8th, the volunteers of MADD Canada nationwide distribute thousands of red ribbons that Canadians can proudly display on their clothes, vehicles, key chains, bags, and more, symbolizing their commitment to never drive impaired or ride with an impaired driver.

“It is so important that this campaign is so widely publicized. We have major news stations reporting on it every year, the mayor’s office participates, police and fire departments, EMS, volunteers, everybody!  And we’re all there for the same reason: to stop impaired driving.”

Nearly ten years after her introduction to MADD Canada, Allison is now the President of the Edmonton & Area Chapter. She has continued to share her story, keeping her father’s memory alive in her work and on the MADD Memorial Wall that features a small percentage of all the loved ones lost to impaired driving in Canada. It is in the memory of those on the wall and the desire to prevent it from growing that MADD Canada and volunteers like Allison remain dedicated to their mission.

“People need to be aware that this is still an issue; it’s not something of the past like we think. We need to remember that we’re a community and should be looking out for each other. Commit to not driving impaired, and don’t be afraid to stand your ground and raise your voice to stop others from driving impaired. What’s the worst that can happen? The best would be that you save a life.”

If you have been injured or affected by death or injury caused by an impaired driver, or if you are interested in helping MADD Canada succeed in their mission, visit or call 1-800-665-6233 today.