Recently, TIME MAGAZINE released “The Invention Issue,” In which they named the 50 best inventions of 2011. MADD is proud that the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS) is listed among them. DADSS is a cooperative research project between the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and leading automakers through the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety to encourage and support the development of new technology that would stop drivers from operating a vehicle if drunk.
As stated in TIME, the project is developing "touch- and breath-based sensors that could be strategically placed on steering wheels and ignition push buttons to instantly measure drivers' blood alcohol concentration. The sensors would automatically analyze a driver's breath or skin to determine whether or not he or she was fit to drive.
The devices are in testing now and will be embedded into a research vehicle by the end of 2013," TIME continues. "If all goes as planned, they could be on the road in eight to 10 years."
This Friday evening on the season premiere of ABC’s What Would You Do? there will be a segment about parents using their children as designated drivers. You can view a preview of the segment here. While we don’t know all of the details of the episode, we do know that is a real problem that should be addressed.
Our friend, Hollywood Ruch, was only five-years-old when his impaired biological father gave the keys to Hollywood’s 13-year-old half-brother to drive. This decision ended in a crash. Hollywood lost several teeth and suffered a brain injury that affected his fine motor skills. However, Hollywood overcame this disaster and now speaks at schools and events across the country, including MADD events, sharing his story and speaking out against drunk driving. View Hollywood’s speech at MADD’s National Conference in 2010:
MADD believes that driving under the influence with a child in the car, as well as having a child drive the car, is child endangerment. As noted in our Report to the Nation, more than half of all children under the age of 15 killed in drunk driving crashes in 2009 were passengers of drunk drivers.
In 2009, 11-year-old Leandra Rosado was tragically killed when an SUV she was traveling in with seven other children crashed in New York City. The adult driver, who had a BAC of .132, was the mother of one of the other passengers. After Leandra’s death, her father tirelessly advocated for Leandra’s Law, which makes driving drunk with a child passenger under the age of 16 in the car a felony punishable by up to four years in prison. From December 18, 2009, when Leandra’s Law went into effect, through July 2011, 1,409 people were arrested in New York State for driving drunk with children in the car. This equates to four people per day arrested specifically for that offense.
Clearly, child endangerment has reached a crisis level in our nation. Each year our victim support line receives between 17,000 and 20,000 phone calls related to child endangerment. States must act now to pass tougher laws and send messages that it is not ok to drive drunk, worse still with a child in the car.
If you know someone who drinks and drives, or worse, with children in the car, read our “Someone You Know Drinks and Drives” brochure where you will also find a section about what to do if your child may be at risk. We hope you will tune in this Friday to see the episode, and let us know what you would do on Facebook or Twitter.
Drew Crossland was your typical all-American student. He was involved in sports and did well in school. But all of that changed around the time Drew was a junior in high school.
One night when Drew was only 17, his parents, Jean and George Crossland, got a phone call from the local hospital informing them that their son had been admitted. Jean and George arrived to find out that Drew had been rushed to the hospital by ambulance, with signs of alcohol poisoning. Drew was at a party with some friends, drank too much alcohol and passed out. Fortunately, his friends called an ambulance, and Drew survived the frightening experience.
George said that Jean “came down pretty hard on Drew” and thought the experience was a good wake up call. After that night, Drew seemed to get his act together and finished up the school year without any other problems.
But unfortunately, that night would not be the last time that George and Jean would get that call.
Drew continued to abuse drugs and alcohol over the next several years, and when he was 23, he spent the day with friends watching sports and drinking. But later that night, one of his friends found him passed out in another room; he was blue. This time when his parents were called to the hospital, Drew was already being placed on life support, and would not survive. Drew’s death certificate read: “over indulged in alcohol”.
Since Drew’s death, his family has become advocates in the fight against underage drinking. They speak at various panels at high schools to tell their son’s story in hopes of preventing another teen from going down Drew’s path and losing their life too young from alcohol and drugs. In fact, George Crossland went back to school and received his psychology degree, and has applied for an alcohol and drug license.
As George said, “hindsight is beautiful,” and through their tragic experience he has advice for other parents about talking with their teens about alcohol and drugs. “You need to be honest and up front in the discussion, and let your children know you are there for them. Make sure your children know they have somewhere to go with their problems,” George said.
If you are a parent whose teen has already starting to experiment with drugs and alcohol, George’s advice is to “get on top of the situation right away, drinking is not a rite of passage. Monitor the situation closely and don't assume just because you drank at an early age that your child will also come out alright.”
It’s because of stories like the Crossland’s that MADD developed the Power of Parents™ program to educate parents about the dangers of underage drinking and give them the tools they need to start talking with their kids about alcohol. Early drinking increases the odds that a child will get hooked on alcohol, tobacco, or illegal drugs. In fact, kids who drink before the age of 15 are four times more likely to become alcoholics.
As we give and receive Happy New Year salutations this January, and listen to chatter of New Year resolutions, I think back to the few years following my daughter’s death. “Happy” wasn’t a possibility, nor did I have the energy to resolve to create change in any way. I was working hard to barely cope.
Now I can look back and see that even during times of anguish I did have some happiness. There were always moments that the kindness of others made my spirit smile, moments of gratitude for the wonderful MADD victim advocate who walked beside me, more moments of gratitude because I was surrounded with people I love and who love me, and treasured moments that made me grin through the tears. So, whatever your circumstances this January, 2012, I wish for you those moments of happiness – moments of contentment and love that circumstances cannot take away.
I do have a New Year resolution: I plan to do the very best I can to continue our work in MADD of saving lives and supporting those who have been victimized by impaired driving. I invite you to join me on these endeavors. Together we are a powerful force!