Today Show Highlights Repeat Offenders in New Segment

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This morning on the Today Show, NBC News Investigative Correspondent Jeff Rossen highlighted drunk drivers with multiple DUI convictions, and the state laws that make it easier for those offenders to continually threaten public safety. MADD National President Colleen Sheehey-Church was interviewed for the segment, speaking to the deadly and lasting impact created by drunk driving; what can and should be done to stop it; and MADD’s top legislative priority – ignition interlocks.

“Drunk driving kills over 10,000 people every year, and MADD needs everyone’s help to ensure a world of No More Victims™,” said Sheehey-Church. “I urge you join our call to stop these senseless tragedies.”

24 states currently have all offender ignition interlock laws in place. New Jersey’s legislature recently passed an all offender ignition interlock bill, and Governor Christie has until March 22nd to sign it into law. California, Maryland, Minnesota and Texas have all offender ignition interlock bills in consideration in their current state legislative sessions. California’s bill is pending a senate public safety committee hearing vote on March 24th.  Please click here to email your lawmakers in support of these, and other lifesaving measures. 

The Today Show also traveled to Denver for the story, highlighting Colorado as one of five remaining states in the U.S. without a felony DUI law for repeat offenders. Colorado Resident Ellie Phipps, a victim of a repeat drunk driver, was featured in the story. Ellie works with MADD Colorado to testify before the state legislature and participate in media interviews, sharing her story of being severely injured by a repeat offender in order to bring attention to Colorado’s desperate need for a felony DUI law.

Ellie’s fellow Colorado residents can help out by contacting their local lawmakers and urging them to support HB 1043 by voting in favor of felony DUI legislation for repeat offenders in the current legislative session.

MADD commends the Today Show for casting a spotlight on the violent crime of drunk driving.

Jan Withers Receives NHTSA Public Service Award at Lifesavers Conference

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) presented 12 individuals and organizations with NHTSA Public Service Awards at this year’s 33rd Annual Lifesavers Conference. The awards recognizes the tireless efforts and outstanding contributions an individual makes to improve highway safety throughout the country.

This year, former MADD National President Jan Withers was recognized for her tireless efforts to encourage tougher legislation across the United States, her service as a victim advocate and her tenure as MADD National President.

Congratulations Jan, and thank you for all you do to save lives and serve victims!

Administrator Mark Rosekind and Jan Withers

Studies Show Campaign Success and Highlight the Need for More Research on Drugged Driving

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently released the results of two studies that show MADD’s efforts to eliminate drunk driving are working. While we continue to make the nation safer, drunk driving is still the greatest risk on the roads. The studies also show that drugged driving is becoming more prominent on our roadways.

Key findings:

  • Alcohol poses the greatest crash risk on the road. A two-year crash causation study in Virginia Beach found that drivers impaired by alcohol at a .08 BAC were 400 percent more likely or 4 times more likely, to be in a crash.
  • The Roadside Survey of Alcohol and Drug Use by Drivers found that the number of drivers with alcohol in their system has declined by nearly one-third since 2007, and there has been an 80 percent reduction since the first Roadside Survey in 1973.
  • The presence of marijuana in drivers has risen in recent years. In the 2014, 13 percent of nighttime weekend drivers tested positive for THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, versus 8 percent for alcohol. This is a virtual switch since the last Roadside Survey done in 2007.

The findings of these studies show that our Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving® and the laws that you have helped to get passed are making a difference! Since the Campaign was created in 2006, drivers on the road with alcohol in their system has been reduced by one-third. While this decline is encouraging, still more than 10,000 people are killed and 290,000 injured each year because of drunk driving, and we won’t stop until there are no more victims.

The studies also show that there is an increase in drivers with marijuana and other drugs in their system, which is why earlier this year we announced that MADD’s mission has been expanded to take on the deadly effects of drugged driving. There is a common overlap between drunk and drugged driving issues, laws and initiatives, and we hope to apply our learnings from the fight to stop drunk driving to aid the prevention of drugged driving.

Want to be a part of the elimination of drunk driving and the prevention of drugged driving? Here’s how you can get involved:

The Virginia Beach Walk Like MADD Dynamic Duo

In 1997, after their daughter Robin was killed by a repeat drunk driver, it took some time before Bob and Kaye would consider volunteering for MADD. Seven years later, they decided that they were ready and began speaking at MADD Victim Impact Panels (VIPs).

“Talking about Robin really helped.” Kaye says about her daughter. “If we changed one mind about drinking and driving, then it was worth our time.”

By 2010, this dynamic duo had shared their compelling message with thousands of Navy military personnel, high school and college students, and citizens of Virginia Beach. They’d spent countless hours answering the calls of victims. They also got to know many of the people throughout their community.

The same year, Bob and Kaye were asked if they would consider organizing a Walk Like MADD community fundraising event. Their goal would be to raise $5,000. “We knew we could do better than that.” Kaye says with a smile.

After a visit to Richmond to observe the Walk there, the duo returned to Virginia Beach, rolled up their sleeves and got to work. In year one, they raised five times the goal. In year two, they raised $35,000. Last spring, they raised $32,000.

“We’ve built wonderful relationships with everyone in our community,” Kaye explains. All of the items needed for the Walk—water, snacks, plaques, even trash cans—are donated by local grocery stores. Home Depot and Target give gift cards that become prizes for the Walk.”

The Commonwealth of Virginia’s Attorney General’s Office and the Navy are two of their biggest supporters. Bob says the Walk teams from these two sponsors are very competitive.

“They donate a lot of money—they really want the plaques,” Bob says with a chuckle.

He adds that having the right people in the right place is important too. “MADD victims and survivors might not want to speak [at VIPs or to recruit sponsors], but they want to be involved. They really want to help,” Bob says. Walks give them the chance to do just that.

This year, Bob and Kaye celebrate 10 years as MADD volunteers, but their motivation remains unchanged: “We do it all for Robin—to keep her memory alive.”

If you are interested in hosting a Walk Like MADD event in your area, contact

Walk Like MADD volunteer Bob Walsh offers these steps for a successful Walk:

  • Set realistic goals— including your financial goal—for the specific area.
  • Solicit sponsors for the event (try to meet your goal through sponsorships).
  • Form a committee of victims and survivors (six to 10) because victims and survivors tend to be more involved and interested in the success of the event.
  • Let committee members choose their responsibilities for the event—for example, advertising the event, registration/sign-in booth, hospitality booth, victim services booth. Each committee member is responsible for finding his or her own volunteers to help carry out responsibilities.
  • Solicit donated engraved plaques to present to top fundraisers in several categories.

Drugged Driving, A Growing Trend

For 35 years, Mothers Against Drunk Driving has been battling one of the greatest threats on our highways. Now, we are battling another... drugged driving.

For me, this problem is personal. Ten years ago, my son Dustin was killed by someone who had both alcohol and drugs in their system. And so it breaks my heart even more to know that it is a problem that continues to grow.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administrative recently released the following statistics:

  • About 20.0 percent of drivers tested positive for at least one drug in 2014, up from 16.3 percent in 2007.
  • Some 12.6 percent of drivers had evidence of marijuana use in their systems, up from 8.6 percent in 2007.
  • More than 15 percent of drivers tested positive for at least one illegal drug, up from 12 percent in 2007.

In light of these statistics and because alcohol isn’t the only drug that causes heartbreak on our roadways, MADD formally added a commitment to fight drugged driving to our mission statement. We will continue to provide services for victims of drugged driving, as we have for years. However, we will be looking at other ways to combat drugged driving.

I’m proud to be MADD’s National President during this new endeavor, and I’m honored to be able to share Dustin’s story on behalf of MADD, and all of the victims and survivors of drunk and drugged driving. Although the substances are different, the consequences are the same — needless deaths and injuries. 

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