TORONTO, Ont. – Toronto police launched their festive RIDE campaign, Thursday, in an effort to ensure impaired drivers are off the roads during the holiday season.

Ontario Provincial Police – in partnership with MADD Canada – will launch their festive RIDE campaign on Saturday.

According to provincial police, 216 people will be killed by impaired drivers this holiday season.

A total of 61 people have died in alcohol-related collisions within OPP jurisdiction so far this year. That is up 17 per cent from last year’s 52 fatalities.

Last year, OPP officers charged 682 drivers with impaired driving and issued a warn range suspension to 583 drivers during the RIDE program. The number of charges laid was more than double the 308 charges issued in the 2010-2011 festive RIDE program.

MADD Canada’s Gregg Thompson said these numbers are way too high, even after 25 years of campaigning against drunk driving.

“Four people a day are killed – still, 200 a day are seriously injured in this country, and it is still the number one criminal cause of death in Canada,” he said.

Police advise if you are going to drink, take a taxi, take public transit, arrange a designated driver or stay overnight. In addition, the public is being asked to reach out and report anyone they suspect has been drinking and driving.

“The main thing we want is we want everyone to get home safely and enjoy a great holiday season all around,” said OPP Insp. Dave Springer. “We know [death] is preventable. That’s the biggest thing. Use the options. The deaths – one is way too many for us.”

Thompson, meanwhile, added that it’s important to enjoy the Christmas season, but it’s important to do it safely.

“Without question, there’s ways to approach the season and do it safely and still enjoy your families,” he said.

He also recommends anyone planning a party to think ahead – have designated drivers available, and have extra rooms and beds for people to stay overnight.

The OPP’s R.I.D.E. program will be in place until January 2, 2013.