By Colonel Ron Replogle, retired Superintendent of the Missouri State Highway Patrol and member of MADD’s National Board of Directors
I wanted to thank the nearly 800 of you who signed the card in support of law enforcement during National Police Week.
I started with the Missouri State Highway Patrol as a road trooper in 1984 and recently retired as superintendent. From my time in law enforcement, I can say it’s truly special when people like you take the time to say thank you to the officers who help keep the roads safe. Too often the people officers interact with on a daily basis aren’t people like you. Some are angry, abusive, unpredictable, even violent. And the all-too-common use of drugs and alcohol for those under arrest just compounds these issues.
One of my good friends and fellow officers paid the ultimate price because of someone’s decision to drink and drive. There is a stretch of highway U.S. 40 in Missouri named the Corporal Michael E. Webster Memorial Parkway. It’s a tribute to the man who gave his life there while trying to keep that road safe.
On October 2, 1993, Mike was talking with the driver of a vehicle he pulled over when a drunk driver struck his patrol car, then the car he had stopped, then Mike himself. He left behind a wife, a six-year-old daughter, and a 20-month-old son.
I remember investigating crashes, arresting offenders, and bringing the worst possible news to formerly peaceful homes. I still see their faces as surely as I remember Mike’s infectious smile.
But that’s also why I’m proud to have served as a law enforcement officer. We get to protect people and prevent these tragedies. Every drunk or drugged driver that we can pull off the road may mean another life saved. It’s one of the hardest jobs you will ever love.
So I wanted to thank all of you who signed the card or reached out to law enforcement officers last week for National Police Week to thank them for their service. It means a lot to know you are making a difference, large or small, in someone’s life. Thank you for your support.
Colonel Ron Replogle
By Kassidy Brown, a member of MADD’s National Teen Influencer Group. Original featured in the 2014 Fall edition of MADDvocate.
As Miss Texas’ Outstanding Teen 2014, my platform for the Miss America Organization is the prevention of underage drinking. My father connected me with Mothers Against Drunk Driving because he knew we shared the same goal. After talking with him, I was able to meet with Kelli Hale, the Program Specialist with MADD East Texas, who drove to Lufkin—my hometown—to hear me speak at the Lion’s Club. Meeting Kelli was the beginning of my life-changing relationship with MADD. My platform became my passion.
I have talked with students of all ages to encourage them to be, “Brave Enough to Say NO.” I have also talked to teachers and other civic organizations about why the legal drinking age is 21. I encourage students to be brave and make good decisions, I educate parents about the long-term effects of underage drinking, and I am working with Texas House Representative Trent Ashby to strengthen laws that save lives.
I am honored that I was selected to become one of ten members to serve on MADD’s National Teen Influencers Group. As a member of this board, I will meet with other teens across the nation to discuss the problems associated with underage drinking and work toward prevention. I have been fortunate that no one I know personally has been killed or injured in a drunk driving crash, but I have seen the devastation caused by these crashes.
I have attended Walk like MADD events and listened to family stories. I also participated in the Tie One on for Safety event in Tyler and was honored to help present awards. I have also visited the MADD National Office, where story boards as big as the walls tell the stories of families with loved ones who were injured or killed in drunk driving crashes. MADD has helped me more than I could ever say and I cannot thank the organization enough for its support on my Miss Texas journey.
Fact: wearing your seat belt is one of the best ways to protect yourself from a drunk driver on the road. And with this weekend being Memorial Day weekend, we know there is a good chance more drunk drivers will be on the road – in 2013, 146 people were killed in drunk driving crashes over Memorial Day weekend.
If every person was properly restrained on every trip, thousands of additional lives could be saved by seat belts each year. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), nearly half of the 21,132 people killed in crashes on our nation’s roadways in 2013 were not wearing their seat belts.
And it’s just as important to buckle up in the back seat. Too many people wrongly believe they are safe in the back seat unrestrained. Half of all front-seat occupants killed in crashes in 2012 were unrestrained, but 61 percent of those killed in back seats were unrestrained.
Regardless of vehicle type, time of day, or seating position, wearing a seat belt is the single most effective way to protect yourself in a crash. That’s why through May 31st, law enforcement officers will be stepping up enforcement and cracking down for NHTSA’s 2015 Click It or Ticket enforcement campaign.
The national Click It or Ticket mobilization has increased seat belt use and saved many lives over the years, but there is still much more that can be done. High-visibility enforcement and encouraging loved ones to buckle up can turn lives lost into lives saved. Learn more about the Click It or Ticket mobilization at nhtsa.gov/ciot, and help spread the word!
So this Memorial Day weekend (and every day of the year), make sure to designated a non-drinking driver if your plans include alcohol, and always buckle up.
I know we just celebrated Mother’s Day, but with your support for MADD, you’re making more “every” days possible.
You keep drunk drivers off our roads, and keep families safer. That not only means happier Mother’s Days, Father’s Days, and Grandparent’s Days. It means happier everyday days – Wednesdays in March and Fridays in October – for husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, best friends, and neighbors.
Your generosity saves lives and keeps families together, so they can enjoy every day. And you and I know that every day with our loved ones is a day worth celebrating. So, Happy Every Day, and thank you for supporting MADD. I look forward to continuing this lifesaving work alongside you.
It’s officially graduation season. But before you take off the cap and gown and head to out with friends to celebrate, take a moment to think about your future. As a teen, you have so much to look forward to – college, pursuing a career, having a family. And the choices you make today will impact your entire life.
Teen drinking can have very bad consequences, and not everyone is doing it. In fact, less than 30 percent of teens have had a drink in the past month. And only 20 percent of teens binge drink. That means that the majority don’t.
You have the power to #ProtectUrSelfie by pledging not to drink alcohol before age 21. Join the Power of (You)th® and take the #ProtectUrSelfie pledge in your cap and gown with the caption:
I pledge to not drink alcohol before 21 or use other drugs b/c my future is worth it! #protecturselfie madd.org/protecturselfie
Congratulations, graduates! The future is in your hands.
Get MADD's research-based teen booklet to learn how you have the power to stop underage drinking.