The Ultimate Crash Avoidance System

Today, Jan Withers wrote a blog for The Hill's Congress blog about the DADSS (Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety) program, titled: The Ultimate Crash Avoidance System.  In the blog, Jan explains the DADSS program, how the technology works and why it is needed.

“Ignition interlocks now, supplemented by DADSS in the future, can take drunk driving from the front pages to the history books. While Congress disagrees on much, everyone can agree that eliminating drunk driving is a worthy goal, both in terms of human lives and cost savings. The potential return on investing $12 million per year to solve a $132 billion per year problem is a no brainer. MAP-21 sets the stage for the elimination of drunk driving. My goal—both personally and as MADD’s National President –is for there to be a day when there are no more victims of drunk driving.”

Read the full blog post here on or read more about Jan Wither’s experience with DADSS from a blog about her trip to the DADSS laboratory.  You can also learn more about the progress DADSS has made.

DADSS was also recently featured in the article, After the Party, a Car That Takes Away Your Keys, on the Wall Street Journal Online.  The first line of the article says, "Friends don't let friends drive drunk. In the future, your car could be that friend."  Read more of this article from the Wall Street Journal.

MADD Georgia Honors Officers

This week, more than 400 Georgia officers received much deserved recognition in the annual Golden Shield Honors hosted by MADD and the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety.  The sacrifice made by those who help keep our road safe was brought to light even more this year after Officer Gail Thomas of the Atlanta Police Department was struck and killed by a drunk driver this past January. 

While nothing we do can ever compensate these individuals have done to protect our families, MADD works hard to host similar events across the country.  Law enforcement officers play a crucial role in MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving®.  High visibility law enforcement like checkpoints and saturation patrols are proven to reduce drunk driving fatalities by 20 percent. 

Don’t forget to thank the officers in your community.  You never know when the life they save might be your own.

Education: The First Line of Defense Against Drunk Driving (Guest Blog)

This is a guest blog post from I DRIVE SAFELY, the leader in the online driver training industry, offering Online Traffic School/ Defensive Driving, Teen and Adult Drivers Ed and Insurance Reduction courses.  

Strict enforcement of drunk driving laws is an essential part of an overall public safety policy. However, every time an intoxicated driver stumbles during a field sobriety test or a police cruiser pulls over a car swerving wildly across multiple lanes, it signals that something has already gone horribly wrong. Either those intoxicated drivers simply did not understand just how much danger they were putting themselves and others in by driving drunk, or else they didn’t understand the severity of the consequences of getting caught.

Thus, the best way to fight against drinking and driving is to educate people about its dangers. The good news is that there are already in place many opportunities for people to improve their knowledge on drinking and driving, and how to avoid doing it.

Teen Drivers Ed

Because teens get their licenses when they are 16, but they don’t start drinking until they are 21, there is a fundamental disconnect between driver education and alcohol education. By the time people can legally start drinking, many of them have been driving for five years, and it is unlikely that they’ll be returning to driving class to learn about the dangers of drunk driving. This is why making drunk driving education a fundamental part of general teen driver’s educationas teens prepare to get their learners permits and driver licenses is essential. When budding drivers understand just how serious and dangerous driving can be, and the ways that alcohol compounds those dangers several fold, they will be more likely to make better decisions and avoid drinking and driving when they become drinking age.

Further, simply knowing that a sound and sober mind is a prerequisite for safe driving should be treated as fundamental driving knowledge, as much as knowing how to change lanes or parallel park. It only makes sense that alcohol education be a core part of every driver’s first driver training.

Advertising Campaigns

Of course, even mature adults suffer lapses in judgment. After five, ten, fifteen or more years after they’ve taken driver’s ed, their memory about the dangers of drunk driving can get a little hazy. Fortunately, mass media ad campaigns can reach a significant chunk of the driving population through magazine, television and radio campaigns, which can help remind adult drivers what it means to drive responsibly. Anti drunk driving advertisements by nonprofit groups like the Ad Council have even spawned famous, memorable slogans like “Friends Don’t Let Friends Drive Drunk.”

Educating Traffic Violators

Most states in the US have a traffic school or defensive drivingprogram. These educational programs usually give drivers an opportunity to remove a citation from their driver record by taking a four, six, or eight hour course on the fundamentals of driving safety.

This is of course gives the perfect opportunity to remind people of the risk drunk driving poses to their personal safety, the safety of others on the road, and their driving privileges. By learning about the seriousness of drunk driving alongside other driving safety topics, traffic law violators can be reminded just how much is at stake.

What Can You Do?

If you have a teenager, ask your child’s high school what role alcohol education plays into teen drivers ed.

Check to see if your state has a statewide defensive driving program, and write to your congressman expressing how important it is make sure traffic violators get educated on the dangers of drinking and driving.

And as always, if you feel that a friend or family member might be engaging in risky behavior, take the opportunity to let them know how much you care about them and how much they stand to lose by driving intoxicated.

1. Elder, R. W., Shults, R. A., Sleet, D. A., Nichols, J. L., Thompson, R. S., & Rajab, W. (2004). Effectiveness of mass media campaigns for reducing drinking and driving and alcohol-involved crashes. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 27, 57–65.

Help MADD protect VOCA funding

In 1984, Congress created the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) and the Crime Victims Fund, which provides funds to organizations, like MADD, for victim assistance and compensation programs that offer support and services to those affected by violent crimes.  Because the Crime Victims Fund comes entirely from criminal fines and other penalties, spending from the Fund does not add to the national debt or deficit and does not hurt taxpayers. 

MADD relies on VOCA funds to help serve drunk driving victims in many states.  Last year, MADD served over 60,000 drunk and drugged driving victims at no charge—one person every nine minutes.  Although we are proud that drunk driving has been cut in half in the 30 years since our founding, there are still over 10,000 people killed and 350,000 injured each year due to this violent crime.  VOCA funding is critical to help us achieve our mission of serving victims of drunk driving. 

In the Administration’s proposed Fiscal Year 2013 budget, the VOCA cap would be increased from $705 million to $1.07 billion—BUT, $365 million would then be transferred out of the Crime Victims Fund and reallocated to support other programs, rather than using that money to help victims.  If this happens, it means that VOCA funds will not be safe in the future and any time Congress needs to fund a program, it could come at the expense of helping victims. 

MADD encourages Congress to raise the VOCA cap to $1 billion per year to help victims of crime, but not to raid this money to pay for other programs.

Assisting crime victims is a critical service and VOCA provides a reasonable, fair, and cost effective way to assist Americans in their hour of need.  Please help us protect VOCA funding by contacting your lawmakers today.

Don't Rely on the Luck of the Irish, Plan Ahead for a Safe Way Home

For many Americans, St. Patrick’s Day has become a popular night to go out and celebrate with friends and family.  Unfortunately, due to the large volume of drunk drivers, the holiday has also become very dangerous.  On St. Patrick’s Day in 2009, 37% of all crash fatalities involved drunk drivers.

While the holiday is associated with Irish merriment and festive drinks, the safety message shouldn’t be lost.  Have fun, but don’t drink if you are under 21 years old and never get behind the wheel impaired.

Whether meeting a few friends at the local pub after work or attending a parade or party, if you plan on drinking alcohol, MADD wants you to make plans for a safe and sober way home or an overnight stay.  

Thank you, Orbitz for donating $1 to MADD for every download of the Hotels by Orbitz app for iPhone or iPad from noon on March 16, 2012 to noon on March 18, 2012.

Learn more about the Hotels by Orbitz iPhone app or iPad app.

You also can help get your friends home safely this St. Patrick's Day—just Give the Gift of a Designated Driver™ to someone you love. Create a personalized coupon and share a safe, sober ride home.

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