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Child Passenger Safety Week
By MADD | September 16, 2014 | Filed in: Drunk Driving

This week is Child Passenger Safety Week, a time to evaluate how to keep our kids safe on the roads.

Car crashes are a leading cause of death for children, and too many of those are caused by drunk driving. In 2012, 239 child passengers (under age 15) were killed in drunk driving crashes—representing 20 percent of all child traffic fatalities. And of those, more than half (52 percent) were passengers in a vehicle with the drunk driver.

MADD receives more than 17,000 phone calls every year related to child endangerment. No child should be in danger from drunk driving, especially by those entrusted to keep them safe. Drunk driving is criminal and irresponsible, and driving drunk with a child in the vehicle is a form of child abuse.

While 46 states and the District of Columbia have laws enhancing penalties for those who drive drunk with a child passenger in a vehicle, the laws vary widely in severity and definition of a child passenger. For example, in New York it is a felony to drive drunk with a child passenger under the age of 16, while in Wisconsin, the same offense is a misdemeanor. Click here to see if your state has DUI Child Endangerment Laws.

MADD is urging lawmakers to enact legislation to protect our most vulnerable population, children. Please email your representatives letting them know that you want a stronger DUI child endangerment law in your state and that every child deserves a non-drinking designated driver.

If someone you know is driving drunk with a child in the car, we have more information and strategies available for you here. Or call our toll-free, 24-hour Help Line at 877-MADD-HELP.


A Rush of Emotions: The Anniversary
By MADD | September 11, 2014 | Filed in: Victim Services

As with any tragedy, there comes a time to observe the traumatic event’s anniversary. Many people believe that grief will wane with time. However, feelings of anger, guilt, isolation, loneliness, sadness and despair often occur long after the disaster. 

On the anniversary of the September 11th disaster, many people find themselves once again contemplating the event and its tragic consequences. 

Life threatening trauma, including learning that a loved one has been seriously injured or killed, can provoke unsettling emotional or behavioral reactions over a long period of time.

We always say: First there’s the crash, then the lifelong impact.

For many victims the anniversary of a tragic event, no matter how many years have gone by, may make the loss more real and bring out a rush of emotions.  Often the pain increases and becomes more intense following the first anniversary.  This is a normal reaction. Grief is a journey and everyone grieves in their own way.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind for an anniversary of a tragic event:

  • Talk.  Unspeakable trauma becomes more manageable when it’s verbalized. Individuals who were personally affected by a tragedy, but have not talked to anyone should seek support. Those who were not personally affected but are experiencing some hypersensitivity, should also talk to someone who understands trauma.
  • Honor individual differences in trauma reaction. Your way is not the only way. Respect the different ways in which people continue to cope. People cope the best way they can.
  • Reach out and remember those more directly affected. Many people who are grieving feel that friends, family, and their community have “forgotten” about them. This can lead to increased feelings of isolation and loneliness. Reach out and listen to their stories. Although they may say the same things over and over, honor these experiences by listening rather than giving advice or telling them that “time heals all wounds.”
  • Do something to help. Recognize the possible reactions to the anniversary. Remember that those directly affected may not be the only ones to experience anniversary reactions. Emphasize that people can be helped by small deeds.  Plant a tree or perennial plant in memory of a loved one who died or in honor of someone who was injured.
  • Seek professional support.  Recognize that grieving is normal, but encourage people to seek professional support when they need it. 


If you are struggling with grief, call 877.MADD.HELP to speak with a victim advocate, day or night.


What’s Your Tailgaiting Gameplan?
By MADD | September 3, 2014 | Filed in: Drunk Driving

Football season is upon us! Are your ready to cheer on your favorite team?

Tailgating is a great way to get together with friends and fellow fans before a game to show your team spirit. However, it can also be a challenging environment to monitor alcohol use.

If you are planning on hosting or participating in a tailgating party, make sure to check out our tailgating gameplan, and read our safe tailgating tips to make sure everyone stays safe, healthy and happy this football season.  

No matter how you celebrate or who you cheer for, don’t ruin game day by getting a DUI, or much worse. Always put safety before the party this football season by designating a non-drinking driver before you leave the house.


Why We’re Here: Michael Collins
By MADD | September 2, 2014 | Filed in: Victim Stories

On March 28, 2014, 22-year-old Michael Collins spent the evening out with friends at a spring formal near campus – he was just weeks away from graduating with a degree in exercise science from Illinois State University. 

In the early hours of March 29th, Michael and his friends were picked up by a designated driver and were on their way home, when a drunk driver ran a red light and struck the vehicle Michael was riding in. Michael sustained severe head trauma and was rushed into emergency brain surgery. After four days of fighting for his life, Michael succumbed to his injuries on April 2nd.

The drunk driver had a BAC of 0.1777 percent – more than twice the legal limit. She recently pled guilty to two counts of aggravated driving under the influence.

Michael was an active member of the Illinois State community and is remembered as a bright and witty friend by those who knew him. He was a natural leader with a propensity for doing the right thing. Michael also assisted his father, Jim, in coaching baseball at University High School.
Although his parents were not aware, Michael had signed up to be an organ donor and his organs and tissue went on to help as many as 200 people.

This past June, Michael’s friends and family formed at team at a Walk Like MADD event in Homer Glen, Illinois.  The team called #MCstrong raised more than $4,500 for MADD Illinois.


Click here to read more about Michael on his tribute page, or make a donation in his honor.


MADD’s response to the NFL’s conditional reinstatement of Dallas Cowboys’ Josh Brent
By MADD | September 2, 2014 | Filed in: Drunk Driving

The Josh Brent situation is a painful reminder of how drunk driving can tear people’s lives apart. We wish so many things could have been different. We wish that Josh Brent would have made a different choice that night and never got behind the wheel of a car after drinking. We wish the criminal justice system in Texas would have sent a stronger message that drunk driving is unacceptable.

Above all, we wish Jerry Brown was alive today, playing football and being a dad. Sadly, victims and survivors pay the ultimate price and are given a lifetime sentence, despite the fact that drunk driving crashes are 100% preventable every time.

We acknowledge the NFL’s conditional reinstatement, but the focus needs to be on what does Josh Brent do with his second chance?

We advocate for immediate suspension and potential banishment from the NFL if Josh Brent violates the NFL’s conditions, especially any adverse involvement with law enforcement and/or prohibited alcohol-related conduct, and all sentencing mandates handed down by the criminal court. 

Instead of looking back MADD wants to look toward the future and how these tragedies can be prevented. That’s why we are more resolved than ever to work with the NFL to educate players, fans and entire communities that behind the statistics real people are needlessly killed and injured every day.

On behalf of the tens of thousands of victims and survivors we serve freely each year, MADD urges everyone to plan ahead if your plans include alcohol. Make the only choice to designate a non-drinking driver to keep the roadways and your loved ones safe.


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