Last week, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam signed into law a bill that requires all convicted drunk drivers use ignition interlocks on their vehicles to prevent future offenses.
Requiring all convicted drunk drivers to use ignition interlocks to prove they are sober before they can start their vehicles has been shown to save lives and stop drunk driving. Arizona, Oregon, New Mexico and Louisiana, have seen a reduction in DUI deaths by 33 to 46 percent, largely due to these comprehensive laws requiring all drunk drivers to receive an interlock.
The bill, sponsored by Republican Rep. Tony Shipley of Kingsport and Republican Sen. Mae Beavers of Mt. Juliet, was unanimously approved 95-0 in the House and 31-0 in the Senate. MADD applauds Tennessee legislators for passing this lifesaving legislation.
Every face was a canvas of deep emotion. Tears of remembrance and heartache painted their cheeks. Their rocky ascent out of the dark hole had been daunting. Nevertheless, it was clear they stood victorious at the top…..Together! So too, tears of reunion and victory sparkled like diamonds in so many eyes.
I was humbled to be even a small part of something so powerful. On the 25th anniversary date of the Kentucky bus crash, survivors, family members and friends of those who died and those who survived gathered to honor those caught in the inflamed bus. The first ceremony of remembrance was in that very school, but many of the survivors still were hospitalized and unable to attend. This time they came with their families, their friends, their spouses and their children, some the very age their parents were on that fateful trip to Kings Island. I observed the faces in the audience as victims and survivors spoke so eloquently. The bond was tangible and the love profound.
Many wore the scars seared into their skin from the flames 25 years ago. To me, they were exquisitely beautiful and regal. I can only imagine their struggle as they grew up, and yet today they do not hide, but wear them with dignity. They joined with family members of those who died to cherish the memories and celebrate their lives.
Harold Dennis, one of the survivors, has partnered with a writer, director, and other producers to launch the film IMPACT: AFTER THE CRASH. They recreated the horror of the crash and then magnificently unfolded the inspiration of human resilience and fortitude that followed. Many family members and survivors wove the stories of their experiences and reactions as they moved forward in their new lives. A private showing of the movie was received with praise and gratitude from survivors and family members of those who died. The community was invited to see the film the following day and it again brought accolades.
I cannot stop thinking about the events of the past few days. I cannot stop thinking about the surviving families. Each person touched my spirit. My heart continues to be filled with tears – tears of admiration. They inspire me. They have refueled my commitment to do everything possible to end this violence once and for all. They have refueled my determination to see the day when there will be no more tears caused by drunk driving.
This week the National Transportation Safety Board recommended lowering the blood alcohol limit from 0.08 percent — the measurement now for 13 years — to 0.05 percent. In their Room for Debate section, The New York Times invited knowledgeable outside contributors to answer the question: “Is lowering the blood alcohol limit the best way to minimize traffic fatalities?”
Jan Withers, MADD National President, shared her opinion in her article, “Other Measures Are Just as Important.” She states that “MADD’s priorities are to focus on all of the initiatives that are currently in the Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving®, and not just single out the lowering of the current blood alcohol concentration level. The campaign acknowledges countermeasures in use today, sets legislative goals for tomorrow and supports future technology to eliminate drunken driving. When fully implemented, MADD’s campaign is expected to save 8,000 lives per year.”
Other debaters include:
Deborah A. P. Hersman, National Transportation Safety Board
Barron H. Lerner, author, “One for the Road"
Gary Biller, National Motorists Association
Kathryn Stewart, Safety and Policy Analysis International
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) recently launched a new national campaign called “Talk. They Hear You.” that empowers parents to talk to children as young as nine years old about the dangers of underage drinking. The kickoff occurred in conjunction with SAMHSA’s 2013 National Prevention Week—an annual health observance dedicated to increasing awareness of, and action around, substance abuse and mental health issues.
SAMHSA’s latest report on underage drinking shows that more than a quarter of American youth engage in underage drinking. Although there has been progress in reducing the extent of underage drinking in recent years, particularly among those aged 17 and younger, the rates of underage drinking are still unacceptably high.
“Talk. They Hear You.” raises parents’ awareness about these issues and arms them with information they need to help them start a conversation about alcohol with their children before their children become teenagers.
Parental influence is the most important factor in helping keep teens safe, and MADD’s Power of Parents program focuses on educating parents and caregivers about the dangers of underage drinking, and provides them the tools they need to talk with their kids about alcohol. (Download the parent handbook for tips and tools to help you start this lifesaving conversation.)