Today, as part of the 2012 Mothers Against Drunk Driving National Conference, more than 300 drunk driving crash victims and survivors, MADD volunteers and supporters from across the country are gathered at the U.S. Capitol for legislative meetings to urge Congressional action on two important measures: full funding for priority highway safety programs, and passage of a Constitutional Amendment providing for crime victims’ rights.
Tonight we kicked off the MADD National Conference with the Celebration of Life: Steps to Healing victim/survivor tribute. At the ceremony, six of the past MADD National Presidents read poems, many by famous poets, but one was written by Carl McDonald, MADD’s very own National Law Enforcement Initiative Manager, to honor his daughter Carlie.
“Balloons on a Birthday Night”
By Carl McDonald
They went up this time a bit lazy
The January winds were kind.
New lighting on the Angel Plaza
Kept them glowing into the sky.
Against the darkness they rose east
Catching the light of the city.
Little dancing globes
Turning to stars in the heights.
Ten of them. I laughed with her for five;
Cold creeping in now with unfairness.
Breathing the frost of pain.
No candles of warmth and light.
Gone from my sight the orbs;
Nothing left to see.
A silent home to return to
Jan Withers, MADD National President, unveiled the “Expression Boards”—chalk boards for conference attendees to write their memories, thoughts and feelings on each day of the conference. Each night, the boards will be erased to give everyone a fresh start for the next day.
|Past National President Laura Dean Mooney passing the Designated Driver Key to Current National President Jan Withers|
|Wall of Honor (victims and survivors of drunk driving)|
What a great start to the National Conference!
In 1999, 22-year-old Kari Miller, a member of the US military, was celebrating the news that she was eligible to enroll in officer candidate school with friends, when a drunk driver hit the car she was a passenger in at 80 mph. Kari awoke to find herself pinned inside the car with her legs crushed between the passenger-side dashboard and a telephone pole. Drifting in and out of consciousness, Paramedics worked to extract her from the car. Kari remembers telling them, "You can cut my legs off, I'll forgive you, just get me out of here."
When she awoke in the hospital, she motioned for something to write one. She wrote: "I know I don't have my legs. Don't be sad. I'll be OK.”
After she was released from the hospital Kari used a wheelchair while a prosthetics team worked to build her legs. A friend of her family suggested that Kari try wheelchair basketball. Kari learned a new way to continue to play her favorite sport. She decided to try out for the U.S. Paralympic team, but with the frame of a 5’4” women, she struggled against the much taller women, and didn’t make the team.
Kari was devastated and planned to give up on athletics altogether until a friend suggested she try sitting volleyball, a sport she had never played. Her first attempt at making the US Paralympic team she didn’t make it, but after years of hard work, she made the team and went on to win a silver medal in the 2008 Paralympics. Kari recently represented Team USA in the 2012 Paralympic games, where they won the silver medal. Learn more about the USA Sitting Volleyball Team.
Kari also works with the Paralympic Military Program at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center where, among other things, she teaches wounded soldiers how to use sports in their recovery.
Kari is such an inspiration to so many injured victims and we are honored to have her as part of her MADD family. MADD would like to congratulate Kari and Team USA for their success at the 2012 Paralympic games.
This is a guest post by Sandy Spavone, the Executive Director of National Organizations for Youth Safety® (NOYS).
Many years ago my brother lost a child in a drunk driving crash. The pain of losing someone we loved to the careless actions of one was a tragedy that could have been avoided. In those days the laws were weak and the penalty was as well. Educational efforts were starting but had a long way to go. Now through the work of MADD, fewer families are impacted by drunk driving crashes and the cost of taking a life because of drunk driving has more penalty. In my position with NOYS I now hear a new outcry from parents who are losing their children in texting while driving crashes. NOYS is honored to have MADD as a member of the NOYS Coalition and we encourage all to follow the success model of MADD to see continued success on issues that impact road safety. To that end, the NOYS Coalition is proud to support AT&T’s efforts to end the deadly habit of texting while driving.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has called texting while driving a “national epidemic.” AT&T’s “It Can Wait” campaign seeks to educate the public about the dangers of texting while driving, and to encourage Americans to remember that no text is worth a life. The campaign is especially focused on teenagers, who are most likely to text behind the wheel. According to a recent survey commissioned by AT&T as part of the campaign, while 97 percent of teens know texting while driving is dangerous, 43 percent of them admit to sending a text while driving, and 75 percent say their friends text and drive.
But it’s not just teens who are texting while driving – their parents are doing it too. While almost nine in ten teenagers report that their parents are good role models against texting while driving, they also note that they see the “hypocrisy” in adults between warning against texting while driving and then texting while they’re on the road. These alarming statistics underscore the need to create a nation where texting while driving is as socially unacceptable as drunk driving—and to make sure both teens and adults are getting the message.
That’s why the NOYS Coalition is glad to see that AT&T, its employees, and supporters of the no-texting-while-driving movement are urging Americans to pledge to not text while driving, and is holding events nationwide on September 19 to punctuate those efforts. NOYS encourages everyone to take a moment to visit www.itcanwait.com to take the pledge, and then share your promise with others via Twitter (#itcanwait) and Facebook.
The NOYS Coalition is always looking for new ways to make our roads safer, to eliminate dangerous practices behind the wheel and to set a good example for children and young adults in our communities. Together, we can work toward ending the practice of texting while driving, and help all Americans realize that no text is worth dying for.
About National Organizations for Youth Safety
National Organizations for Youth Safety® (NOYS) is a coalition of national organizations and federal agencies who serve youth and focus on youth safety and health. Through this coalition, NOYS influences more than 80 million young people and their adult advisors. The mission of NOYS is to promote youth empowerment and leadership, and build partnerships that save lives, prevent injuries, and enhance safe and healthy lifestyles among all youth.
This is a guest blog post from I DRIVE SAFELY, the largest online driving school in the United States offering Online Traffic School/ Defensive Driving, Teen and Adult Drivers Ed and Insurance Reduction courses.
Fan violence, unruly behavior and drinking excessively, does that sound like our national past time?
Attending a professional sporting event has become less enticing for many. Not only is it becoming more and more expensive, but alcohol related incidents have an alarming number of people opting to stay home rather than attending games in person.
During a recent study conducted by the University of Minnesota, 362 adults exiting 13 baseball games and three football games were asked to complete a survey and submit to a breathalyzer test to determine their Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC).This study was the first ever conducted to measure blood alcohol content immediately after professional sporting events in the United States.
Results of the BAC revealed:
- 60% of participants exiting the game had zero BAC
- 40% showed a positive BAC
- Nearly 8% were legally drunk
The study also showed that people under the age of 35 were eight times more likely to be legally drunk than other fans, and those who "tailgate" before the game were the worst offenders. Tailgaters were shown to be 14 times more likely to leave a game intoxicated.
In an anonymous survey following the breathalyzer test, one in four tailgaters admitted to consuming at least five alcoholic beverages. Those with the highest BAC range consumed an average of 6.6 drinks. The study also showed that one out of every 12 fans attending a football or baseball game will leave the stadium legally drunk. Let’s do the math. If 60,000 people show up to a football game and one out of 12 leaves drunk, that’s 5,000 intoxicated people on their way home. The most alarming thing is a good percentage of these intoxicated fans will probably get behind the wheel and drive home.
In an effort to minimize alcohol related incidents many sports stadiums and arenas have set their own policies. For example at the University of Phoenix Stadium, where the Arizona Cardinals, play they strongly encourage all fans to exercise responsible consumption of alcoholic beverages.
A few of their rules include:
- Any fan that shows signs of impairment and/or intoxication will not be allowed to enter or will be removed from University of Phoenix Stadium and subject to arrest.
- Any attempt to bring alcohol inside the stadium or possession of an alcoholic beverage not purchased from the University of Phoenix Stadium concessionaire may result in ejection.
- Concessionaire staff members reserve the right to deny service to fans that show signs of impairment and/or intoxication.
- A maximum of two alcoholic beverages or 32 ounces of beer will be sold per person per transaction.
- Alcohol sales in the general seating areas of University of Phoenix Stadium will stop at the conclusion of the third quarter.
Angel Stadium of Anaheim, home of the Los Angeles Angels, takes it a step further by not even allowing people to bring alcohol into the parking lot or consume it there. They also stop the sales of alcohol inside the stadium at the conclusion of the 7th inning.
Unfortunately not all sports facilities have strict policies regarding alcohol. In an effort to make all stadiums and arenas adhere to some sort of policy, the people at TeamCoalition.org have compiled this list of the average rules that all the members of their coalition follow:
- ID policy: 30 and younger
- Maximum number of beers per purchase: 2 beers
- Maximum serving size per beer: 20 oz
- Denial of outside beverages into the facility
- Alcohol sales cut off times for pro sports:
- MLB: end of the 7th inning
- NFL: end of the 3rd quarter
- NBA end of the 3rd period
- End of the 2nd period
In addition to these proposed guidelines TeamCoalition.org suggests that all sports facilities also incorporate some type of designated driver program. To encourage participation in the program, the designated driver could be rewarded with free concessions, VIP parking or upgraded seating when available.
In return the designated driver will sign an agreement pledging to:
- Present a valid driver’s license proving they are over 21 years of age
- Not drink alcohol while at the stadium
- Take responsibility for driving home their friends and family who have been drinking
Clinical proof shows that alcohol related issues need to be addressed in professional sports. Although some stadiums and organizations such as TeamCoalition.org are doing their part to set policies, it’s extremely crucial for fans to police themselves. If you’re attending a professional sporting event in the future, be sure to:
- Limit your alcohol consumption
- Be sure to eat food and drink plenty of water
- Always appoint a designated driver
- Plan to use public transportation or a taxi
- Use common sense
And always remember to Drive Safely.
About I DRIVE SAFELY
Founded in 1998, IDRIVE SAFELY is the largest online driving school in the United States offering Online Traffic School/ Defensive Driving, Teen and Adult Drivers Ed and Insurance Reduction courses. For more information, visit www.idrivesafely.com. I DRIVE SAFELY can also be found at http://www.facebook.com/idrivesafely.