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.
Children are our greatest resource and our future. That’s why MADD is taking action to help protect the children who are needlessly put in danger every day in this country.
While drunk driving is recognized as a violent crime, driving impaired with child passengers is not commonly acknowledged as a form of child endangerment or child abuse. No one should have to ride with an impaired driver. However, children have little choice when the driver is a parent or an adult caregiver.
If you see an adult who is visibly impaired attempting to drive with a child in the car:
Calmly suggest alternative transportation, recommend the driver postpone travel or offer to drive the child, if appropriate. Avoid a heated altercation that can put the child in further danger.
Call 911 at the time of the incident with as much information as possible (such as name of the driver, vehicle description and/or license plate, and destination). Also be sure to give them your name and contact information for responding officers.
Document the situation so that your notes can be used later.
Notify another parent or caregiver of the situation.
Teach children techniques for keeping themselves safe if they are ever forced to ride with an impaired driver (see below).
Report your concerns to state or local child protective agencies.
Here are some tips you can teach your kids or a child you know who might find themselves in a situation where they are riding with a drinking driver:
Sit in the back seat.
Buckle-up tight and use your booster seat, if needed.
Put all of your belongings on the floor.
Do not bother the driver and stay quiet.
Tell a trusted grown-up immediately about any unsafe ride.
This week is Child Passenger Safety Week, a time to evaluate how to keep our kids safe on the roads.
Car crashes are a leading cause of death for children, and too many of those are caused by drunk driving. In 2012, 239 child passengers (under age 15) were killed in drunk driving crashes—representing 20 percent of all child traffic fatalities. And of those, more than half (52 percent) were passengers in a vehicle with the drunk driver.
MADD receives more than 17,000 phone calls every year related to child endangerment. No child should be in danger from drunk driving, especially by those entrusted to keep them safe. Drunk driving is criminal and irresponsible, and driving drunk with a child in the vehicle is a form of child abuse.
While 46 states and the District of Columbia have laws enhancing penalties for those who drive drunk with a child passenger in a vehicle, the laws vary widely in severity and definition of a child passenger. For example, in New York it is a felony to drive drunk with a child passenger under the age of 16, while in Wisconsin, the same offense is a misdemeanor. Click here to see if your state has DUI Child Endangerment Laws.
As with any tragedy, there comes a time to observe the traumatic event’s anniversary. Many people believe that grief will wane with time. However, feelings of anger, guilt, isolation, loneliness, sadness and despair often occur long after the disaster.
On the anniversary of the September 11th disaster, many people find themselves once again contemplating the event and its tragic consequences.
Life threatening trauma, including learning that a loved one has been seriously injured or killed, can provoke unsettling emotional or behavioral reactions over a long period of time.
We always say: First there’s the crash, then the lifelong impact.
For many victims the anniversary of a tragic event, no matter how many years have gone by, may make the loss more real and bring out a rush of emotions. Often the pain increases and becomes more intense following the first anniversary. This is a normal reaction. Grief is a journey and everyone grieves in their own way.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind for an anniversary of a tragic event:
Talk. Unspeakable trauma becomes more manageable when it’s verbalized. Individuals who were personally affected by a tragedy, but have not talked to anyone should seek support. Those who were not personally affected but are experiencing some hypersensitivity, should also talk to someone who understands trauma.
Honor individual differences in trauma reaction. Your way is not the only way. Respect the different ways in which people continue to cope. People cope the best way they can.
Reach out and remember those more directly affected. Many people who are grieving feel that friends, family, and their community have “forgotten” about them. This can lead to increased feelings of isolation and loneliness. Reach out and listen to their stories. Although they may say the same things over and over, honor these experiences by listening rather than giving advice or telling them that “time heals all wounds.”
Do something to help. Recognize the possible reactions to the anniversary. Remember that those directly affected may not be the only ones to experience anniversary reactions. Emphasize that people can be helped by small deeds. Plant a tree or perennial plant in memory of a loved one who died or in honor of someone who was injured.
Seek professional support. Recognize that grieving is normal, but encourage people to seek professional support when they need it.
If you are struggling with grief, call 877.MADD.HELP to speak with a victim advocate, day or night.
Football season is upon us! Are your ready to cheer on your favorite team?
Tailgating is a great way to get together with friends and fellow fans before a game to show your team spirit. However, it can also be a challenging environment to monitor alcohol use.
If you are planning on hosting or participating in a tailgating party, make sure to check out our tailgating gameplan, and read our safe tailgating tips to make sure everyone stays safe, healthy and happy this football season.
No matter how you celebrate or who you cheer for, don’t ruin game day by getting a DUI, or much worse. Always put safety before the party this football season by designating a non-drinking driver before you leave the house.
The Josh Brent situation is a painful reminder of how drunk driving can tear people’s lives apart. We wish so many things could have been different. We wish that Josh Brent would have made a different choice that night and never got behind the wheel of a car after drinking. We wish the criminal justice system in Texas would have sent a stronger message that drunk driving is unacceptable.
Above all, we wish Jerry Brown was alive today, playing football and being a dad. Sadly, victims and survivors pay the ultimate price and are given a lifetime sentence, despite the fact that drunk driving crashes are 100% preventable every time.
We acknowledge the NFL’s conditional reinstatement, but the focus needs to be on what does Josh Brent do with his second chance?
We advocate for immediate suspension and potential banishment from the NFL if Josh Brent violates the NFL’s conditions, especially any adverse involvement with law enforcement and/or prohibited alcohol-related conduct, and all sentencing mandates handed down by the criminal court.
Instead of looking back MADD wants to look toward the future and how these tragedies can be prevented. That’s why we are more resolved than ever to work with the NFL to educate players, fans and entire communities that behind the statistics real people are needlessly killed and injured every day.
On behalf of the tens of thousands of victims and survivors we serve freely each year, MADD urges everyone to plan ahead if your plans include alcohol. Make the only choice to designate a non-drinking driver to keep the roadways and your loved ones safe.
On March 28, 2014, 22-year-old Michael Collins spent the evening out with friends at a spring formal near campus – he was just weeks away from graduating with a degree in exercise science from Illinois State University.
In the early hours of March 29th, Michael and his friends were picked up by a designated driver and were on their way home, when a drunk driver ran a red light and struck the vehicle Michael was riding in. Michael sustained severe head trauma and was rushed into emergency brain surgery. After four days of fighting for his life, Michael succumbed to his injuries on April 2nd.
The drunk driver had a BAC of 0.1777 percent – more than twice the legal limit. She recently pled guilty to two counts of aggravated driving under the influence.
Michael was an active member of the Illinois State community and is remembered as a bright and witty friend by those who knew him. He was a natural leader with a propensity for doing the right thing. Michael also assisted his father, Jim, in coaching baseball at University High School. Although his parents were not aware, Michael had signed up to be an organ donor and his organs and tissue went on to help as many as 200 people.
This past June, Michael’s friends and family formed at team at a Walk Like MADD event in Homer Glen, Illinois. The team called #MCstrong raised more than $4,500 for MADD Illinois.
Many survivors of drunk and drugged driving crashes, as well as loved ones of those who’ve died, feel lost and helpless after the crash. While friends and family members are often available in the days immediately surrounding the tragedy, finding a support system that lasts a lifetime can be difficult. That is why MADD’s Victim Services are so vital.
Thanks to the explosion of the Internet and social media, getting these tools is easier than ever. Here are just a few of the avenues that victims can use to connect to other victims, honor loved ones and find much-needed resources:
On MADD’s tribute page, victims and survivors can post pictures and memories of their loved ones and read about others with similar stories. Participants can even raise money in the name of a loved one if they choose.
For years, victims and survivors relied on finding face-to-face support groups and other in-person meetings to connect with others experiencing similar emotions. However, due to location or the demands of busy schedules, these groups weren’t always accessible. The MADD Victim Services Facebook page gives victims and survivors the chance to engage with other victims, ask questions, provide comfort to others or read other victims’ stories.
Every holiday season, MADD hosts an online event where friends and relatives of victims and survivors have the opportunity to post something in memory or in honor of a loved one and light a virtual candle. This annual event provides an outlet for emotions during a tough time of year.
MADD offers a wide array of support materials on a number of different topics related to drunk and drugged driving victimization. Whether a victim/survivor needs help navigating the criminal justice system or just wants to know whether what they are feeling is normal, these brochures and workbooks can be downloaded at no charge from any computer.
If you still can’t find what you need online, call MADD ’s National Victim Services Help Line at 1-877-MADD -HELP (877-623-3435), toll free.
Labor Day is celebrated by many Americans as the symbolic end of summer. With back to school and fall just around the corner, many families take advantage of this long summer weekend and head out on a last summer vacation or a day trip to the beach, pool or lake.
But holidays like Labor Day can be an especially dangerous time on America’s roadways. In 2012, there were 147 people killed in drunk driving crashes over Labor Day weekend. To put that into perspective, throughout the year someone is killed in a drunk driving crash every 51 minutes, on average. Over the Labor Day weekend, that statistic jumps to one every 34 minutes.
Thankfully, law enforcement will be out in force ready to arrest drunk drivers who put lives at risk from August 15 through September 1, covering the end of summer and the busy Labor Day holiday weekend.
Research shows that these campaigns result in a 20-percent decrease in drunk driving deaths. With one person, on average, dying every 34 minutes in a drunk-driving crash over Labor Day weekend, that’s a lot of lives that could be saved!
There are several ways you can help keep your loved ones safe this Labor Day holiday:
Plan for a safe way home with a non-drinking designated driver for you and your loved ones before consuming alcohol
Together, we’ve changed the culture on drunk driving. In 2006, New Mexico was the only state to require all convicted drunk drivers to use an ignition interlock. Today, thanks to you and MADD supporters like you, almost half of all states have passed similar laws.
But we need to keep the fight going to get the other 26 states to pass this lifesaving legislation so that convicted drunk drivers can’t continue to endanger innocent lives.
“As honored as I am to have this legislation in Alisa’s name, I wish more than anything that we didn’t need an Alisa’s Law, or a Leandra’s Law in New York, or an Emma’s Law in South Carolina, or a Melanie’s Law in Massachusetts – or any more laws to stop this needless and 100% preventable crime.”
MADD supports government officials, regardless of political affiliation, who take drunk driving seriously. At the same time, we are dismayed each time we hear someone has made the choice to drive drunk – especially those we hold to a higher standard, such as elected officials. Drunk driving is 100% preventable and completely unacceptable, no matter the person behind the wheel, their profession or political party.
In the specific case involving Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, MADD Texas publicly expressed disappointment with her actions, and we are grateful that no one was injured or killed. We reiterate that sentiment in light of recent events. Following her sentence, Mrs. Lehmberg offered a monetary donation to MADD Texas, which was accepted and used specifically to serve victims of drunk driving in Texas.
Just like last year's events now being re-played in the media, we want to steer clear of the politics and focus the story on the importance of making the safe choice to designate a non-drinking driver if alcohol is involved.
According to a new poll released by Gallup, 74 percent of Americans are against lowering the drinking age to 18 while only 25 percent would favor it.
Graph from gallup.com
At MADD, we support the 21 Minimum Legal Drinking Age law because it prevents tragedies—decreasing crashes by an estimated sixteen percent and saving more than 25,000 lives. Click here to read more reasons why 21 saves lives.
MADD volunteers Bob and Kaye Walsh and Heather Geronemus are unstoppable. When it comes to organizing successful Walk Like MADD community fundraisers, they work like mad. The three agree it takes a village—committed volunteers, generous sponsors, walking and running enthusiasts, and a passion for saving lives—to get the job done.
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.
After observing a Walk Like MADD event in South Florida, it was no surprise when MADD volunteer and public relations professional Heather Geronemus was asked to chair Fort Lauderdale’s Walk the next year. With a successful track record in organizing fundraisers for other charities in the Fort Lauderdale/Miami area, Heather had some innovative ideas.
“We needed to change it up,” Heather says. That meant including a 5k run called the MADD Dash. And getting corporate sponsors involved. “We created a 5k run component, which attracts a lot of people because we have a robust running community. Our Walk event has something for everyone: runners, walkers, kids, award sfor the fastest runs and more,” Heather says. “MADD is here for everyone!”
When her father, Dr. Robert Geronemus, was struck and killed by a hit-and-run drunk driver in 2009, Heather wanted to do something to honor him. Organizing a MADD fundraiser in their hometown was the perfect fit.
Yesterday, Delaware Governor Jack Markell signed into law a bill that will protect families in Delaware by reducing drunk driving deaths.
The new law requires all drunk drivers convicted with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or greater to use an ignition interlock on their vehicle for at least four months. Offenders with a BAC of .15 or greater or who are repeat offenders would be required to go on the interlock for a longer period.
Previously, interlock devices were required only for first offenders arrested with a blood-alcohol concentration of .15 or higher or who refused to take a chemical test, and for repeat drunk drivers.
When MADD launched the Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving® in 2006 only one state, New Mexico, had interlock legislation for all offenders. Delaware joins Alabama, Mississippi, and New Hampshire, which also passed lifesaving legislation requiring ignition interlocks for all convicted drunk driving offenders this year, bringing the total number of states with mandatory interlock laws to 24.
Similar laws enacted in other states have helped reduce drunk driving deaths. Since Arizona and Oregon implemented their interlock law, drunk driving deaths have decreased by 43 and 42 percent respectively. MADD has made ignition interlocks for all offenders our number one legislative priority because these devices save lives.
MADD applauds the leadership of Representatives Keeley and Smyk and Senate Majority Leader McBride, as well as all Delaware legislators for passing this lifesaving legislation.
Delaware Governor Jack Markell signs HB-212 into law at AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Wilmington, Del. headquarters. From left to right: Jamie Nutter, Parkowski, Guerke & Swayze, P.A.; bill sponsor, Representative Helene M. Keeley, (D-3 Wilmington); Debbie Weir, CEO, MADD; Sharon W. Bryson, Deputy Director, NTSB; Marke Dickinson, Executive Vice President, AAA Mid-Atlantic; and Jack Dalton, Director at Coalition of Ignition Interlock Manufacturers
Summer is drawing to an end, and kids are headed back to school (whether they like it or not). But parents, do you have the supplies you need to make this a successful school year? No, we’re not talking about backpacks and pencils.We’re talking about the tools every parent needs to keep their kids safe.
Did you know alcohol kills more teens than all other drugs combined? That’s why it is so important to talk with your teens about underage drinking. But we know that this can seem like a daunting task, which is why we created the Power of Parents® program to provide parents with proven tips and tools tohelp your kidsstay alcohol-free this school year.
Here are seven tips for getting through to your teen:
Communicate before a problem starts – Have important discussions now, before there’s blame, anger or punishment. Agree on a time to start talking together about the dangers of alcohol.
Discuss rules and consequences – Explain how you expect your son or daughter to act, and why. Tell your teen plainly that you don’t want him or her drinking. Agree on consequences of broken rules.
Show you care – Gently touch your teen on the arm or back to show affection. Tell your teen you love them and want them to be healthy and safe. Explain that’s why you need to talk together about the dangers of underage drinking.
Pay attention – Even when life gets hectic, take time out to listen to your teen. Monitor where your teen is and what your teen is doing.
Share family activities – Have dinner together at least three times a week.
Give and get respect – When your teen talks to you, listen and reply respectfully. Insist that your teen treat you with respect, too.
Enforce consequences consistently – If your teen breaks the rules, stay calm and enforce the consequences.
All of your efforts to help save lives are working! Thanks to your support, we have had a very successful year so far getting new legislation passed to help protect our loved ones from drunk driving.
Four states – Alabama, Mississippi, New Hampshire and Delaware – have passed all offender ignition interlock laws this year! In addition, laws requiring interlocks for first-time offenders with a BAC of .15 or higher were passed in South Carolina and in Rhode Island.
In Kansas, you helped us get the sunset clause on their current interlock law eliminated, which will means interlocks for all offenders will be a permanent law in Kansas. In West Virginia, your efforts helped pass a new law that strengthened the states’ all offender law and closed some administrative and technical loopholes. And finally, in Connecticut, together we got a new law passed that makes the state truly all offender.
August 9, 2002 was supposed to be a special day for 27-year-old Angie Bass. She was recently married and was looking forward to celebrating her honeymoon that night. On her way to drop off her son Zack at school, a drunk driver traveling at 85 miles per hour crashed into their car, leaving Angie and Zack in critical condition. The following day, seven-year-old Zack died from his injuries.
The driver, a repeat offender with a BAC of 0.17 and also under the influence of both prescription and illicit drugs, proceeded to hit a second car before his truck came to a stop in the embankment. He was convicted of 2nd degree murder and two counts of assault with a deadly weapon. He sustained no major injuries from the crash.
Although Angie survived her injuries, she carries the burden of physical and emotional pain every day. “There is no greater loss than the loss of a loved one,” she says, “Zack was an extraordinary child.”
Zack was a loving and fearless child, and was very smart for his age. He loved to play soccer and had dreams of becoming a fireman or artist. Angie says, “He made every single day a wonderful day to treasure and had a way of making everyone around him feel special.”
After the crash, MADD provided victim services to Angie and her family, including assistance navigating the legal system, as well as court accompaniment during the trial and supportive literature that she credits for helping her learn to cope with the tragedy.
Today, Angie and many other members of Zack’s family are still a part of MADD. They attend local MADD events like victim support groups and victim tributes. Angie continues to help spread awareness of the dangers of drunk and drugged driving by sharing her personal experience. “I would share my story a million times in the hopes of saving one life the pain that my family and I endure,” she says.
MADD was honored to participate in our partners at CARCHEX’s Grand Opening last month, which raised $2,000 for MADD. This donation goes towards their larger national partnership donation of $20,000 pledged earlier this year when MADD and CARCHEX formally became partners to support MADD’s mission.
The Grand Opening celebration took place on June 28th at CARCHEX's new headquarters in the Hunt Valley Towne Centre in Maryland. The Baltimore Ravens' Justin Tucker and Jimmy Smith were on site to sign autographs and take red-carpet style photos with fans. The Grand Opening also coincided with a special gathering of automotive enthusiasts where exotic, classic and muscle cars, trucks and SUVs were on display for the audience's enjoyment.
MADD National President Jan Withers attended the event to share MADD’s mission as well as her personal story.
Baltimore Ravens' Justin Tucker and Jimmy Smith
Fans enjoyed a showcase of specialty vehicles, including McLaren and Lamborghini models.
"Our Grand Opening celebration was a tremendous success. We want to thank all of our partners, friends, and especially the Baltimore Ravens for their support," said Jason Goldsmith, CARCHEX CEO. "With their help, we were able to raise money that will go directly to a cause close to our hearts, MADD's mission to end drunk driving."
Thank you CARCHEX for supporting MADD and for inviting us to participate in your Grand Opening celebration! And thank you to everyone who participated in this event and helped support MADD!
The researchers looked at alcohol ads that ran in U.S. magazines in 2011, with a focus on ads for the top 25 alcohol brands consumed by underage drinkers. Those brands were advertised more heavily in magazines read by young people than 308 other alcohol brands that are less popular with underage drinkers, the investigators found.
Compared to the other brands, the most popular brands were five to nine times more likely to heavily expose 18- to 20-year-olds to their magazine ads, the findings showed.
Because of the dangers associated with underage drinking, MADD is concerned about the effects that alcohol advertisements have on our youth.
All of the ads in the study were in complete compliance with the industry’s self-regulatory guidelines, which suggest that alcohol ads should be restricted to magazines with less than 30 percent of readers who are younger than 21. However, MADD believes in stricter standards, including prohibiting advertising to audiences with less than 90 percent adults aged 21 and older viewership.
Since parents cannot always control the type of advertisements their teens are exposed to, it is important to talk with your teens early and often about the dangers of underage drinking. MADD’s Power of Parents® program can provide the tools you need to start this potentially lifesaving conversation with your teen.
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.