Rachelle Mattsson (left) and Chatham-Kent police Const. Kristen Charron (right) raise awareness on the National Day of Remembrance For Road Crash Victims. (Photo by Kirk Dickinson/CKXS News)

The memory of a life cut short is what spurs one local woman to raise awareness of the consequences of impaired and distracted driving.

Rachelle Mattsson lost her mother Wendy Clark following a hit-and-run collision in Ridgetown on October 19, 2022. Since then Mattsson has been honouring her mother by telling their story in the hopes it informs others.

“That is my reality and letting her not die in vain is what brings me to stand here today to bring awareness to unsafe driving,” she said, adding that it has been a positive way to grieve her loss. “When we do things to make us happy, that we’ve done something for our loved ones, it keeps them alive in some way.”

Recently, Mattsson launched a $500 scholarship in her mother’s name at Ridgetown District High School for students in Grades 10-12 who participated in an essay competition focusing on safe driving.

The funds for the scholarship were raised through the sale of keychains with the inscription, “Drive Safe Someone Loves You.”

“I loved it because it wasn’t an angry message. I wanted to be angry, but I wanted to make awareness and I didn’t want an angry message,” said Mattsson. “I hope that when people use these keychains they realize they should be driving safer and not texting, not drinking and not being distracted.”

Mattsson said she also hopes to expand the scholarship to schools across the municipality next year.

Wednesday marked the National Day of Remembrance for Road Crash Victims and the unofficial kickoff of the Chatham-Kent police Festive RIDE campaign, which will see officers conducting spot checks for impaired drivers.

According to the Chatham-Kent Police Service, officers have investigated 17 serious motor vehicle collisions on municipal roads in CK so far this year, 14 of which have claimed a life.