Founded by a mother whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver, Mothers Against Drunk Driving® (MADD) is the nation’s largest nonprofit working to protect families from drunk driving and underage drinking. With the help of those who want a safer future, MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving® will end this danger on America’s roads. PowerTalk 21™ is the national day for parents to talk with their kids about alcohol, using the proven strategies of Power of Parents, It’s Your Influence™ to reduce the risk of underage drinking. And as one of the largest victim services organizations in the U.S., MADD also supports drunk driving victims and survivors at no charge, serving one person every 10 minutes at 1-877-MADD-HELP.
Together, these programs ensure that MADD achieves its lifesaving mission.
Every 90 seconds, someone is injured in a drunk driving crash. And as we know, first there’s the crash, then the lifelong impact. No one should try to minimize the challenge of adjusting to a new future or letting go of an old life. The reality is that many injured victims must build new lives, and often that includes a new career.
Courageous injured victims Brittany Kirby and Chris Mann share how they successfully rebuilt their lives and their careers—one painful step at a time.
Bad Things Happen to Good People
On February 13, 2009, 19-year-old Brittany, her friend Rachel, and Rachel’s two young children were driving out of town for a Valentine’s Day weekend getaway. Without warning, a drunk driver with a BAC of .15 crossed the center lane of the Tennessee road they were traveling on, and hit their car head-on.
“I don’t remember the crash,” Brittany says. “My injuries included two shattered bones in my left arm, a shattered knee joint and a traumatic brain injury. I was on life support because of my brain injury and I had to undergo eight surgeries.”
Brittany was told that Rachel was in a medically induced coma to help her body heal. Rachel died two days later. Her two children survived.
Chris Mann was living his dream of being a law enforcement officer. He spent four successful years with the Lawrence, Kansas, Police Department. While on patrol and training a rookie officer in the early morning hours of January 11, 2002, his life was forever changed.
“We pulled an SUV with no taillights over,” Chris recalls. “It was a routine traffic stop, until I caught the flash of headlights coming toward me. I didn’t have time to move before I was hit.” Chris says he was walking in front of his patrol car when a drunk driver struck the car from behind, pushing the car into him, sending him airborne. “I landed unconscious on the side of the road, 30 feet from where I had been standing.” Miraculously nothing was broken, but the soft tissue damage to his leg was extensive.
After months of physical therapy he tried to go back to work, but his leg could not hold up. When he was removed from active duty, Chris had to contemplate what to do with the rest of his life.
Adjusting to life after an injury and learning to live with new limitations can be extremely frustrating. Injured victims must heal emotionally as well as physically.
MADD offers brochures for crash victims, in English and Spanish, covering grief and healing, talking to children and teens about death, coping with serious injury, the criminal and civil court system, and more. Click here.
MADD’s vehicle donation program helps raise critical funds to eliminate drunk driving, but past efforts by Congress that were intended to enact strong safeguards to stem fraud and abuse have unintentionally discouraged potential donors.
According to the IRS, the number of cars donated the first year the new rules took effect dropped by 67 percent. Moreover, the corresponding value of those vehicle donations went down by 77 percent, meaning that donors stopped donating higher value cars that charities derive the greatest revenue.
The Charitable Automobile Red-Tape Simplification (CARS) Act, bipartisan legislation authored by Representatives Todd Young and Linda Sanchez, was just introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives and would reform IRS rules to give potential donors a fair market value for donating their vehicle to MADD, or any charity that accepts vehicle donations.
Summer vacation for teens should be a time of fun and relaxation, summer camps and first jobs, volunteering and exploring. Unfortunately, for some, unsupervised time leads to alcohol and drug use.
July is the month when more young people start using alcohol and other substances than any other. On average in July, someone under age 18 begins:
Drinking alcohol every eight seconds
Smoking cigarettes every 17 seconds
Using marijuana every 19 seconds
Using inhalants every 47 seconds
This doesn’t even count the 18, 19 and 20 year olds who begin drinking during the month.
That’s the bad news; now the good news. If you are a teen, you should know that even though the risks are highest during the summer, most teens don’t drink. Less than 30 percent of teens have had a drink in the past month. A growing number of teens have decided to be an example for others through the Power of You(th) program.
If you are a parent, now’s the perfect time to start or renew the conversation with your teen about alcohol. You can learn how to have the conversation about alcohol effectively with our free Power of Parents handbook at www.madd.org/powerofparents.
Number of Adolescents Younger than 18 Using Alcohol for the First Time on an Average Day, by Month: 2002 to 2010
The Minimum Legal Drinking Age was set at 21 based on decades of research proving that young people react differently to alcohol. Teens get drunk twice as fast as adults, but have more trouble knowing when to stop. Teens naturally overdo it and binge more often than adults. Enforcing the legal drinking age of 21 reduces traffic crashes, protects young people’s maturing brains, and keeps young people safer overall.
MADD knows that informed, caring parents can make a difference, and we’re here to help. In fact, data from a national MADD/Nationwide Insurance® survey of high school students shows that teens who receive a message from their parents that underage drinking is completely unacceptable are more than 80 percent less likely to drink than teens who receive any other message. Click here to see the interactive infographic.
So today, in honor of the anniversary of the 21 drinking legal drinking age, we encourage all parents and caregivers to talk with your teens about the dangers of underage drinking. Start by visiting the Power of Parents® page on our website to download the free parent handbook and get other tips and expert resources for talking with your kids about alcohol.
MADD has always, and will continue to support the 21 Minimum Legal Drinking Age because it saves lives and prevents injuries.
During the summer months, families often take to the highways for vacations and extended road trips. While these excursions can start off as a happy occasion, they can too often result in tragedy.
A new infographic from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Ad Council shows how even if the drunk driving crash doesn’t kill or seriously injure you, the consequences will still ruin your life.
A recent study, released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) about the financial impact of motor vehicle crashes, shows that if drunk driving continues at its present level, an average of two out of three people in the United States will be involved in a drunk driving crash in their lifetime. This is a significant increase over previous data, which estimated that one in three people will be involved.
Other significant drunk driving findings from the study include:
The economic impact of drunk driving is second only to speeding.
The annual cost of drunk driving in the U.S. is $199 billion, which is up from previous estimates of $132 billion.
The number of injuries each year attributed to drunk driving is 290,000, which is down from previous estimates of 345,000 injuries.
The number of crashes each year that involve a drunk driver is 2.65 million, which is up from 2.09 million in 2000.
This should serve as a wake-up call. There is no denying the devastating impact of drunk driving on our families, communities, and the country as a whole. Luckily, the solution is simple: just don’t drink and drive. It’s not worth it.
Today, Representative Nita Lowey introduced a bill in the House of Representatives that would push states to require the use of ignition interlock devices for a minimum of six months for all convicted drunk driving offenders. States that fail to comply would face a reduction in federal transportation funding.
The bill is called “Alisa’s Law,” in honor of the daughter of MADD National President Jan Withers. Yesterday would have been Alisa’s 38th birthday had her life not been tragically cut short by a drunk driver when she was just 15.
If passed, this legislation would represent a significant milestone for MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving®. When the Campaign was launched in 2006, New Mexico was the only state to require all convicted drunk drivers to use an ignition interlock. Today, 24 states have passed similar legislation, and California instituted a pilot program that covers over 13 million people. The most recent count shows that over 300,000 interlocks are installed in the United States.
Every major traffic safety organization including the National Transportation Safety Board and AAA has endorsed the concept. As part of the MAP-21 surface transportation bill, Congress approved an ignition interlock incentive grant program to give financial incentives to states which pass all offender interlock legislation. Alisa’s Law is the next major step towards a nation without drunk driving, a crime that still causes almost one-out-of three highway deaths.
MADD thanks Congresswoman Lowey for her leadership to help eliminate drunk driving.
This Fourth of July, MADD will receive $1 for each rider in any of Uber’s 70 U.S. cities who uses the UberMADD promo code, and MADD will also receive $10 for each new Uber user who signs up and uses the UberMADD promo code on the Fourth of July.
MADD supports Uber, and other types of car services, as an alternative transportation option for adults who plan to drink alcohol.
Thank you Uber for helping to prevent needless deaths and injuries because of drunk driving.
Help us spread the word on social media about Uber’s support of MADD using #UberMADD!
On July 8, 2011, sixteen-year-old Aaron Carrillo and his friend Jon were stopped on the shoulder to help their friend Mark, whose car had stalled on the highway. The teens were members of a Christian rock band and were on their way home from playing a show.
The drunk driver, who was traveling on the shoulder of the highway at 70 mph, never applied the brakes when he crashed into Mark’s car. Mark and Jon were inside the car and Aaron was standing outside. Aaron was killed instantly and Jon was taken to the hospital where he later died. Mark survived his injuries, but now lives each day with the horrific memory of his friends’ deaths.
Aaron was a vibrant young man who lived life to its fullest and excelled in everything he set his mind to do. Beyond his academic, athletic, creative and musical gifts, his greatest gift was his big heart for people. He had a genuine desire to make people feel loved and encouraged and was known for his bear hugs and thumbs up sign. Aaron's infectious smile and witty personality made him very approachable and he easily made friends everywhere he went. Aaron is loved and deeply missed by everyone who knew him.
Aaron and Jon
The drunk driver, who had a BAC of .29 and also tested positive for cocaine, was given the maximum sentence allowable in the state of Texas—two, 20 years terms to be served consecutively for a total of 40 years. According to the El Paso District Attorney’s office, this was the largest sentence given in the city for a DWI/DUI case.
MADD Victim Advocates were connected with the Carrillo family through the District Attorney’s Victim Assistance Program and provided support and court accompaniment throughout the criminal justice process.
The Carrillo family continues to participate in MADD events and working to raise awareness about the dangers of drunk driving. They have attended Candlelight Vigils and created a Walk Like MADD® team in memory of Aaron and Jon. This March, the Carrillo family worked with the City of El Paso to create a video about Aaron to remind the public to drive safe and sober and hopefully, prevent another family from experiencing the pain of losing someone to this 100 percent preventable crime.
The July 4th holiday is a favorite time of year for many Americans, with backyard parties, good food and fireworks. But the celebrating our country’s independence can also turn deadly when people drive after drinking alcohol.
In 2012, almost HALF of all crashes with fatalities during July 4th weekend involved a drunk driver, making it one of the deadliest holidays of the year.
As part of the nationwide “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” crackdown around the Fourth of July, law enforcement agencies across the country will be intensifying their efforts to deter and detect drunk driving. Research shows that high-visibility enforcement can reduce drunk driving fatalities by as much as 20 percent. That’s why MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving® includes support for high-visibility law enforcement efforts.
In addition to the dangers posed by drunk driving on roadways, the United States Coast Guard reports that alcohol was the leading factor in boating fatalities last year, contributing to 16 percent of boating deaths.
So this 4th of July, whether you’re in a car or on a boat, help keep your loved ones safe by planning ahead with a non-drinking designated driver.
Help spread the word by sharing our Fourth of July checklist on all your social channels!
MADD® Virgin Drinks were conceived and developed by Hill Street Marketing Inc. to offer designated drivers and other adults an alcohol-free beverage option, while supporting Mothers Against Drunk Driving at the same time. Through a partnership with Walgreens, five percent of retail sales from MADD® Virgin Drinks will be donated to MADD for our ongoing efforts to stop drunk driving and support the victims of this completely preventable crime.
Although they are alcohol-free, MADD® Virgin Drinks will only be sold to adults 21 and older, as to not send a mixed message to those under 21.
Thank you to MADD® Virgin Drinks and Walgreens for supporting MADD’s efforts to eliminate drunk driving. For more information, visit maddvirgindrinks.com.
As people across the country make plans to celebrate the Fourth of July, MADD reminds adults to plan ahead for a non-drinking designated driver – whether on the road or on the water – if alcohol will be a part of the festivities. And we encourage party hosts to always offer alcohol-free beverages for non-drinking designated drivers and others who prefer not to drink alcohol.
MADD National President Jan Withers was honored yesterday by Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates) with a Highway Safety Hero award for her efforts to eliminate drunk driving. The award was given to Members of Congress, federal and state leaders and citizen activists who have advanced safety initiatives.
In addition to the Highway Safety Hero Awards, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety announced a new award, the Senator Frank R. Lautenberg Highway Safety Leadership Award, to honor the former New Jersey Senator’s legislative legacy in advancing highway safety laws.
The list of those honored by Advocates at yesterday’s event, including Senator Sherrod Brown, Congressman Ted Poe and Congressman John Lewis, was truly distinguished.
MADD values our partners, like Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, and we look forward to working with them to eliminate 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
Today, MADD held a recognition event on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. to honor MADD National President Jan Withers for her years dedicated to reducing drunk driving deaths, serving victims of this violent crime and preventing underage drinking.
Jan has been involved with MADD since 1992, when her 15-year-old daughter, Alisa Joy, was killed by an underage drunk driver, and has served as president since July 1, 2011.
During Jan's three year term as our National President, we have seen significant progress on our Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving®, for which she has been a tireless advocate. Jan has worked to pass all offender ignition interlock laws in eight states, and has worked with lawmakers to fully codify MADD’s Campaign as part of the most recent highway reauthorization bill, including continued funding for high visibility law enforcement crackdowns, a new robust ignition interlock incentive grant program, and authorizing the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety.
When asked what the most rewarding part of being MADD’s National President, Jan said:
“My spirit is filled when I meet the volunteers and drunk driving victims around the country, who choose to make a difference by dedicating themselves to saving lives and helping other victims and survivors. These are such courageous people who are taking something so devastating and creating a positive change.”
Jan’s leadership, expertise and compassion has helped MADD make great strides for drunk driving and underage drinking prevention, as well as victim services over the past few years, and we couldn’t be more grateful for her efforts.
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.
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.
On May 31, 1999, 18-year-old Matt Dawson was at a field party with his girlfriend. Since he had a 1:00 a.m. curfew and his girlfriend didn’t have to be home until 2:00, he decided to catch a ride home with a group of friends headed to a store near his house.
They were traveling at an estimated 89 miles per hour when they crashed just a few blocks away from Matt’s house. Both Matt and the driver were not wearing seatbelts and were ejected from the car. The other three people in the car, including the driver, were injured, but survived. Matt was killed.
“As parents, as a family, we will never be the same as we were on that date,” Matt’s mother Laura Dawson said.
Matt was a friend to everyone and only saw the good in people. He considered everyone a friend and was always willing to help anyone in need. Matt was a Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do, and occasionally taught classes. He loved music and was a great artist.
However, Matt’s death wasn’t the first brush with drunk driving tragedy for the Dawson’s. Matt was actually the second of three cousins in his family killed in drunk driving crashes:
Tim Dawson – killed in 1976 in Mississippi
Matt Dawson – killed in 1999 in Virginia
Stephanie Ward Stahl – killed in 2012 in West Virginia
Laura says that her family’s experience with so much devastation because of drunk driving has made the family closer, “but shows that no family is immune.”
In Matt’s case, the driver, whose BAC was .212, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to six months in jail.
After the trial, Laura began volunteering for MADD and later became a certified victim advocate so she could provide assistance and support for other families impacted by drunk driving. She also served as leader of her local MADD chapter in Virginia. She continues to shares Matt’s story at MADD victim impact panels, and school and community events.
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.
As families across the country get ready to kick off the summer and honor our military heroes this Memorial Day weekend, MADD urges motorists to stay safe on the road during a time of year when drunk driving deaths typically increase by designating a non-drinking driver and always wearing your seat belt.
In 2012, 165 people were killed in drunk driving crashes over Memorial Day weekend. These deaths accounted for 44 percent of all highway fatalities during the time period, compared to an average of 31 percent for the year as a whole.
Seat belt usage is one of the best ways to stay safe on our roadways, and one of the best ways to protect yourself from a drunk driver. That’s why this Memorial Day Weekend, law enforcement officers will be stepping up enforcement and cracking down for NHTSA’s 2013 Click It or Ticket enforcement campaign.
Regardless of the vehicle, seat belts save lives. In 2012, NHTSA statistics show that 21,667 occupants of passenger cars, trucks, vans and SUVs were killed in motor vehicle crashes nationwide—and 48 percent were NOT wearing seat belts at the time of the fatal crashes.
In 2012 alone, seat belts saved an estimated 12,174 people from dying. And from 2008 – 2012 seat belts saved nearly 63,000 lives.
So if your Memorial Day plans include alcohol, make sure to designate a non-drinking driver, and always buckle up!
Boating under the influence is just as dangerous as driving a motor vehicle while intoxicated, and just as illegal. So this summer, whether you’re on the road or water, always plan ahead with a non-drinking driver.