The Summer issue of MADDvocate is now available. Read the latest issue of our online magazine that is helping survivors survive.
Meeting with House Transportation Appropriations Chairman
By MADD | June 16, 2014 | Filed in: Drunk Driving
Last week, in conjunction with MADD’s legislative reception on Capitol Hill, MADD National President Jan Withers led a group of national board members, all of whom are victims of drunk driving, to meet with House Transportation Appropriations Chairman Tom Latham. They met to talk about the importance of the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety, or DADSS program. During the meeting, Jan and the other board members shared how important this project is to victims of drunk driving. “This technology represents an opportunity to eliminate drunk driving,” Withers told Chairman Latham. They also told Chairman Latham how important fully funding the DADSS project is.
Mary Klotzbach, Nina Walker, Colleen Sheehey, Chairman Tom Latham, and MADD National President Jan Withers
At MADD, we like to say we are not just mothers. We are fathers, sisters, brothers and friends.
As we move into June, we celebrate Father’s Day. My thoughts go back to the time immediately after Alisa was killed. Following her death, friends frequently asked Joe, my husband, how I was coping. Seldom, however, did anyone ask me how Joe, Alisa’s dad, was doing. Our society seems to have such a belief in the strength of maternal love, frequently ignoring the intensity of paternal love.
I happen to be writing this on Memorial Day, which is especially significant to my family because my first husband, my children’s natural father, was killed on active duty when they were very young. He was a wonderful daddy – always loving and active in their lives. I loved co-parenting with him. I thought there could be no greater partnership. When he died our world fell apart. Not only did he make the ultimate sacrifice protecting our country, my children also made that sacrifice.
Jennifer & Alisa with their daddy, Doug Withers
A few years later, Joe Sikes walked into our hearts, nobly and humbly taking on that role of daddy. What a gift he is. He just openly and quietly loves my children as he does his own, without hesitation nor fanfare. I love co-parenting with him, too! They are not ‘my’ children, they are 100% ‘our’ children. He is just like that. Anyone who knows this family knows how heartbroken Joe was when Alisa was killed by a drunk driver. Today Joe and I walk hand-in-hand in our commitment to end this violent crime and support others who walk with us on this journey.
Alisa with her daddy, Joe Sikes
I think of all the bereaved fathers at MADD who grieve the needless death of their precious children. Their hearts are shattered, yet their resolve is strong—the resolve to diligently work until there are no more deaths or injuries caused by drunk driving. They are a powerful force in MADD. They are “Mothers” too – Mothers Against Drunk Driving. This Father’s Day, I wish to honor all the fathers who are “Mothers” in this mighty organization and tell you how deeply I appreciate each of you.
MADD National President
Parents often worry about their kids’ safety, and they have good reason to be concerned when their teen gets behind the wheel. Young, inexperienced drivers are the most crash-prone drivers on the road. In fact, traffic crashes are the number one cause of death for American teenagers, and summer is an especially dangerous season for teens behind the wheel.
In 2012, the number of teens killed in traffic crashes increased nearly 20% during June and July.
Young drivers have high fatal crash rates because of limited driving experience and immaturity that can often result in high-risk behavior behind the wheel. So before summer is in full swing, talk with your teens about safe driving. MADD’s Power of Parents program provides parents with some tips on how you can help your teen beat the odds.
Safercar.gov recommends setting ground rules for teen drivers, such as:
- No Alcohol. In 2012, there were 1,875 young drivers (15 to 20 years old) who died in motor vehicle crashes. Twenty-eight percent of them had alcohol in their system, even though they weren’t of legal drinking age.
Underage drinking is illegal and dangerous – and we’re not just talking about drunk driving (learn more). Have your teens take our Power of You(th) pledge to not drink until 21 and never ride with someone who has been drinking.
- No Cell Phones. No matter how experienced you are as a driver, talking on a cell phone while driving reduces your reaction time.
- No Extra Passengers. In a study analyzed by NHTSA, teen drivers were two-and-a-half times more likely to engage in one or more potentially risky behaviors when driving with one teenage peer compared to when driving alone.
- No Speeding. Speeding is a major factor in teen crash fatalities. In fact, in 2011, it was a factor for 35% of teen drivers in fatal crashes.
- Always Buckle up. Nearly 2,800 teens were killed in passenger vehicle crashes in 2010, 60% weren’t wearing a seatbelt.
When it comes to keeping teen drivers safe, parents are the key. So talk with your teens about safe driving habits, and more importantly, be a role model. Always practice safe driving habits like buckling up, avoiding distractions, and never drive after drinking.
MADD is excited about the possibilities of self-driving vehicles. We support the development of advanced technology that will reduce crashes, fatalities and injuries on our roadways. Both the self-driving technology and the DADSS (Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety) technology, which automatically detects a driver’s blood alcohol concentration, hold tremendous promise for a safer tomorrow. We look forward to future advancements that will eventually eliminate drunk driving completely.