2015 was a good year for Walk Like MADD. We raised to date over $3.16 million dollars and welcomed more than 21,500 participants and 2000 teams to participate in events in 82 cities across the country. We are thankful to all the staff, volunteers, sponsors and participants who worked tirelessly on events focused on ending drunk driving.
In addition to raising revenue, which in turn helps us provide continued programs and victim services at no cost to families, we focused our attention on establishing a meaningful and impactful event experience. Walk Like MADD provides the venue to rally the support of every day citizens and help put an end to drunk driving. Our goal was to have walkers remember what or who brought them to the event, feel inspired to work alongside MADD to solve the problem and be empowered to make a commitment to do even more to end drunk driving once and for all.
Here are a few pictures that represent how Walk Like MADD was able to turn tragedy into triumph.
Sam Riney, a police officer for the city of Alton in Illinois, was on duty December 19, 2005 (the week before Christmas) when his squad car was hit head on by a repeat impaired driver.
Sam sustained severe physical injures including a brain injury known as brain shearing. He was not expected to recover from the brain injury and doctors predicted he would not have a meaningful recovery and that he would be permanently disabled, requiring total care.
The crash occurred two days after Sam’s birthday and a week before Christmas. His wife, Kate, was pregnant with their first child at the time and they were looking forward to celebrating Sam’s birthday and Christmas. Celebrations that year would have to be put on hold. Instead of celebrating the holidays with family and friends, Sam was recovering from brain surgery. His prognosis was very poor and he wasn’t expected to recover. This was extremely difficult for them to deal with. Kate shared this took an emotional toll on them at what was supposed to be a very happy time for them – Sam’s birthday, the Christmas holiday and the arrival of their first child. Instead, that Christmas was spent in the ICU waiting area. There was no celebration.
Sam’s offender was charged with aggravated DUI conviction, driving on a suspended license and driving while uninsured. He and his passengers suffered only minor injuries in the crash that forever changed Sam and Kate’s life.
Sam did recover. After six months of rehabilitation and another six months of light duty, Sam was able to return to full duty as a patrol officer.
Once Sam was home and healthy, they had a “Christmas in July” sort of celebration at home to thank their family for all of their support throughout the injury and recovery.
Although the crash affects their life every day, Kate and Sam try not to think about. For them, continuing to relive the tragedy would only give the offender’s actions more power. Instead, they do what they can to educate others. Kate speaks at Victim Impact Panels for MADD, sharing Sam’s story and how that day changed their lives. Sam is a strong advocate in his professional work as a police officer fur DUI enforcement. He was honored by MADD and the State of Illinois for his efforts in DUI enforcement.
Drunk driving deaths drop below 10,000 for first time since 2011
Today, MADD learned that the number of drunk driving fatalities on our nation’s roadways dropped below 10,000 for the first time since 2011. According to data released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were 9,967 fatalities involving an alcohol impaired driver in 2014 (compared to 10,076 in 2013), accounting for 31 percent of all traffic fatalities. Yet NHTSA also noted that overall traffic deaths for the first half of 2015 are up as much as 8.1 percent. This is troubling, especially given that the holiday season is upon us, one of the most dangerous times of the year for drunk driving.
While the 2014 decline in drunk driving fatalities is welcome news, there is still much to be done to create a future of No More VictimsTM. As a nation, we must stop these senseless tragedies.
Today, MADD issues a national call to action and challenges every state to pass all-offender ignition interlock laws and improve existing laws to ensure all offenders use an ignition interlock as soon as possible after a drunk driving offense. Ignition interlock laws are a key feature of MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving®. Since the Campaign was launched in 2006, drunk driving deaths are down by 26 percent. The newly released NHTSA data shows a continued decline in states with ignition interlock laws; such as Arizona, which has experienced a 50 percent reduction in drunk driving fatalities since its law passed in 2007. Drunk driving fatalities in West Virginia have dropped 40 percent since 2008; and other states – such as Oregon, Washington and Hawaii – have had reductions of 25 to 33 percent.
MADD also encourages every law enforcement agency to participate in NHTSA’s upcoming Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign to increase enforcement during the holidays. Law enforcement plays a pivotal role in preventing drunk driving, and MADD applauds their tireless work to protect the public during the holidays and year-round.
The public can also plan ahead for a safe ride home this holiday season and show their support for law enforcement by participating in MADD’s Tie One On For Safety® campaign. For more information, visit madd.org/toofs.
Recently, several high-profile news articles have brought new attention to underage drinking. In Washington, D.C., a local high school principle sent an email to parents imploring them to not provide alcohol to underage students. Also in Washington, a former high school quarterback was charged with vehicular manslaughter after leaving a house party where a seemingly knowing parent allowed underage drinking to occur. And finally, a ballot initiative was just filed in California to lower the drinking age from 21.
MADD is committed to the health and safety of our young people. We applaud Walt Whitman High School Principal Alan Goodwin for taking a stand and encouraging parents to stop underage drinking. Parents are the biggest influence on their children, and this program will help keep your child safe, and we have proven tools like the Power of Parents that can help.
MADD takes our mission to prevent underage drinking seriously, and we want to remind parents and teens that the consequences of underage drinking can be devastating. The 21 minimum drinking age is one of the most researched and reviewed public health laws in our country. Recent studies show that the adolescent brain is continuing to develop until young people reach their mid-twenties. It is important that we continue to support the 21 drinking age to keep our children safe and healthy.
Underage drinking is an adult problem. In order for those under 21 to obtain alcohol, an adult somewhere must break the law. For parents who provide or permit underage drinking in their home, the episode in Washington is stark reminder of the consequences. Not only was the father given a citation of $5,000, which could have been $60,000, but two young people lost their lives. All of this is 100 percent preventable.
Some parents still believe that “all kids drink underage” and that “it’s safer under my watchful eye.” After all, Europeans drink at age 18 and their society is flourishing, right? These three myths couldn’t be further from the truth.
The truth is, the majority of teens don’t drink. In fact, less than 30 percent of teens have had a drink in the past month. And only 20 percent of teens binge drink. So, not everyone is doing it! Research proves it’s never safe to let children drink.
And when teens feel they have their parents’ approval to drink alcohol, they tend to drink more — and more often — outside the home. What seemed harmless at first often results in tragic consequences that even parents don’t anticipate.
Finally, in Europe, young people have higher intoxication rates than in the United States, and less than a quarter had lower or equivalent rates to the United States. Also, a greater percentage of young people in a majority of Europe report binge drinking at higher rates than their U.S counterparts. Most European youth have higher rates of alcohol-related problems because of their heavy drinking.
MADD continues to speak out about the dangers of underage drinking. We have made too much progress to see effective laws like the 21 drinking age discarded. We encourage you to support the 21 drinking age and talk to your kids about the dangers of underage drinking. Together, we can make a difference and end underage drinking.
Parental influence is the most important factor in helping keep kids safe, and MADD’s Power of Parents® program focuses on educating parents and caregivers about the dangers of underage drinking, and provides them the tools they need to talk with their kids about alcohol. Visit madd.org/powerofparents to download our Parent Handbook and get tips and tools to help you have this lifesaving conversation about alcohol with your kids.
We are excited to announce MADD’s “2015 Legislators of the Year” — 70 lawmakers across the country honored for their steadfast commitment to saving lives and advancing MADD’s ultimate goal — creating a nation of No More Victims.
In Congress, U.S. Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey advocated for ignition interlocks for all drunk driving offenders, one of MADD’s top legislative priorities as part of our Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving launched in 2006.
MADD National Board of Directors Vice Chairman Steven Benvenisti, Esq., a lifelong New Jersey resident who was almost killed by a drunk driver while in college, presents a Legislator of the Year award to Senator Booker at his office in Newark.
Other legislative champions:
Senator Jimmy Hickey authored SB 81 and SB 877. Representative Sue Scott Authored HB 877 and Representative Mary Hickerson authored SB 81. Both of these measures were signed by the Governor improving the state’s all-offender ignition interlock law.
Senator Jerry Hill authored SB 61, which extends the end date of the four-county interlock pilot program until July 2017. These counties include: Alameda, Los Angeles, Sacramento and Tulare.
MADD California presents Sen. Jerry Hill with a 2015 Legislator of the Year award on Tuesday.
From left: Program Manager Aaron Wade, Program Coordinator Domenica Cardenas, Bay Area Program Director Natasha Thomas, Senator Hill, California resident Mary Klotzbach, who is a member of the MADD National Board of Directors, and Tom Klotzbach.
Representatives Beth McCann and Lori Saine, along with Senators John Cooke and Mike Johnston, authored legislation which makes a fourth DUI a felony. Thanks to their efforts, Colorado is the 46th state to enact a DUI felony law. The law allows judges to order ignition interlocks for up to five years for second-time offenders. MADD also proudly recognizes Representatives Rhonda Fields and Polly Lawrence, who serve as Victim Rights Caucus Chairs. MADD appreciates the leadership of these lawmakers to advance victim rights.
MADD Awards 2015 80—Rep. Lori Saine presents a pen that was used to sign Felony DUI and an official legislative tribute to Chris Citron, who advocated for the law (with Fran Lanzer).
MADD Awards 2015 77—MADD Colorado Executive Director Fran Lanzer with Legislators of the Year Rep. Beth McCann, Deb Grenzke, Chris Citron, Sen. John Cooke, Geoff Grenzke, Sen. Mike Johnston, Rep. Lori Saine, Frank Martinez.
MADD Awards 2015 75—MADD Colorado Executive Director Fran Lanzer presents Legislator of the Year awards to Rep. Rhonda Fields and Rep. Polly Lawrence.
Representative Tom Rice authored HB 205, which creates a first-time offender interlock law. The legislation is pending in Committee ahead of the 2016 session.
The state’s all-offender interlock law went into effect in 2009, but lawmakers remain focused on making sure the law is working by taking much-needed improvements. Representatives Barbara Wheeler, Ron Sandack, and John Anthony authored HB 3533, which requires the use of ignition interlocks for five years for all repeat offenders. Representative Elaine Nekritz authored HB 1446, which requires fourth-time offenders to use an interlock for the rest of their lives. Senator Steve Stadelman authored SB 627, which allows any first-time offender to go on an interlock immediately after revocation, as opposed to waiting 30 days. MADD also recognizes Secretary of State Jesse White for convening a working group of stakeholders to make these recommendations, and for his efforts to enforce the law and stop drunk driving. MADD thanks Representative John D'Amico for supporting HB 3533, HB 1446 and SB 627.
Senator Dennis Kruse authored SB 444, which would require the use of an ignition interlock for convicted drunk drivers who drove intoxicated with a child passenger in the vehicle.
Lael Hill, Victim Services Specialist with MADD Indiana, presents Indiana Sen. Dennis Kruse with a MADD 2015 Legislator of the Year award.
Representative Sandy Salmon authored HB 186, which would create an all-offender interlock law in Iowa.
Representative Dennis Keene and Senator McGarvey authored legislation requiring ignition interlocks for all repeat offenders, refusals, cases of child endangerment and first-time offenders with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .15 or greater. The new law went into effect earlier this year.
Senator Julie Raque Adams authored legislation that would have eliminated the option for DUI Shock probation, which allows drunk drivers who cause fatal crashes to have multiple-year sentences reduced to days. Senator Dennis Parrett authored legislation that would have extended the amount of time a DUI offense remains on an offender’s record from five to 10 years.
Delegate Ben Kramer authored legislation creating an all-offender interlock law. MADD hopes lawmakers advance the legislation in 2016.
Senator James E. Timilty authored all-offender interlock legislation, SB 1895. The bill is pending in the legislative process.
Mary Kate DePamphilis, Program Manager for MADD Massachusetts,
presenting a 2015 Legislator of the Year award to Senator James Timilty last week
Senator Tonya Schuitmaker authored SB 175 and SB 176, which would help ensure Michigan’s ignition interlock law is working to stop drunk drivers. Representative Klint Kesto authored similar legislation in the House (HB 4979, HB 4980, HB 4981)
Representative Kim Norton authored HF 1112, creating an all-offender interlock law. The legislation carries over into 2016.
Representative Caleb Jones and Senator Will Kraus championed SB 254. This new law allows the Department of Revenue to extend the period a motorist is required to maintain the ignition interlock device on his or her vehicle by three months if the ignition interlock detects an attempt to tamper with the device. This new law is critical in ensuring interlocked offenders have learned to driver sober.
Senator Nicholas Scutari authored all-offender interlock legislation S 385/A 1368. The legislation was championed by co-sponsors Assemblyman Ralph Caputo and Assemblyman Joseph Lagana.
Senator Torraco authored SB 499 creating extra penalties for driving drunk with a child passenger in a vehicle. Representative Pacheco authored HB 303 allowing for law enforcement to conduct no refusal activities.
These lawmakers coauthored legislation creating (HB 877/SB 619) creating an all-offender interlock law. The legislation is pending consideration in 2016. Legislative champions include: Senators Josh Stein and Buck Newton, along with Representatives Jonathan Jordan, Darren Jackson and John Faircloth.
Senator John Rafferty and Representative Keith Greiner authored SB 290/HB 278 requiring interlocks for all first-time offenders with a BAC of .10 or greater. The legislation passed the Senate and is pending in the House. Senator Lloyd Smucker co-sponsored SB 290 and also authored SB 839, which creates a DUI felony law for third-time offenders.
Senator Joel Lourie authored S 428, which would improve alcohol serving requirements. Senator Larry Martin authored S 428 relating to alcohol server training, S 178 improving field sobriety test requirements, and SB 590 improving the interlock law. Senator Brad Hutto authored S 465 and SB 590 improving the state’s ignition interlock law. Representative Rick Quinn authored H 3974 improving the ignition interlock law. Representative Ralph Norman authored H 3441 relating to DUI Video recording requirements so that more DUI arrest result in convictions. Representative Anne Thayer authored H 3169 improving South Carolina’s ignition interlock.
Thanks to the efforts of lawmakers, four new laws went into effect on July 1. HB0042/SB1315 by Representative William Lamberth and Senator Randy McNally requires that a person being convicted of vehicular assault or vehicular homicide serve a mandatory minimum sentence before being eligible for probation. HB0120/SB1316 by Representative Lamberth and Randy McNally creates a Class C Felony offense of aggravated vehicular assault, which is vehicular assault with certain aggravating factors (such as prior convictions for alcohol-related traffic offenses or a blood alcohol concentration of .15 or greater).
HB00045/SB0030 by Representative Dale Carr and Senator Doug Overbey requires a person who commits aggravated vehicular homicide on or after July 1, 2015, to serve 60 percent of the sentence imposed before becoming release eligible; provided, however, that the person must serve at least 45 percent of the sentence imposed after the sentence-reduction credits are applied.
HB1342/SB933 by Representative Terri Lynn Weaver and Senator Janice Bowling, clarifies that a deceased victim’s family has a right to have a photograph, determined by the court to be a reasonable depiction of the victim prior to the crime, be admitted during trial.
Representative Jason Villalba authored HB 2246 making Texas the 25th state to enact an all-offender interlock law. This new law was greatly helped by the leadership of Representative Senfronia Thompson and Speaker Joe Straus and by Senator Joan Huffman who carried the legislation in the Senate.
Senator Mike Padden authored legislation making a fourth DUI a felony. The legislation fell short in the House after passing twice in the Senate in 2015. MADD hopes it will make it to the Governor in 2016.
Representative Dave Heaton and Senator Van Wanggaard authored SB 222/AB 266, which if passed, improves Wisconsin interlock law. Representative Andre Jacque and Senator Roger Roth authored AB 43/SB 29, which allows for law enforcement to request search warrants from judges if a first-time offender refuses.
Representative Jim Ott authored many OWI reform measures including measures to: Criminalize first offense (AB 363, requires court appearances of OWI offenders (AB 352), mandatory minimums in injury crashes (AB 353), eliminate lookback period for second offenders (AB 444), third offense felony (AB 447), increase penalties for repeat offenders (AB 445), and AB 446 providing for mandatory minimums in fatal drunk driving crashes. Senator Alberta Darling authored legislation that requires court appearances of OWI offenders (AB 352), mandatory minimums in injury crashes (AB 353), eliminate lookback period for second offenders (AB 444), third-offense felony (AB 447), increase penalties for repeat offenders (AB 445), and AB 446 providing for mandatory minimums in fatal drunk driving crashes.
Representative Terese Berceau and Senator Tim Carpenter authored AB 363 criminalizing a first OWI offense.
Thank you to all these legislative champions for helping MADD improve laws across the country and ultimately save lives as a result. You can take action to help MADD advance lifesaving legislation by going to www.madd.org/takeaction. Every action you take helps us get one step closer to a future of No More Victims.
MADD has had an incredibly busy and successful legislative session since our last update in March. Work continues this Fall on state and federal legislation that are key components of MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving, and thanks to you we are making a difference in states like Texas, Illinois and California!
On Sept. 1, Texas officially became the 25th state with an all-offender interlock law after an all-out effort by dozens of MADD volunteers and staff who emailed, called and visited Texas legislators. A huge thank you to Representative Jason Villalba and Senator Joan Huffman for championing this effort!
Also in September, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a law that extended a four-county pilot program requiring interlocks for all offenders through July 1, 2017. That gives us time to renew our efforts with Sen. Jerry Hill to pass an all-offender bill for the entire state in 2016.
And in Illinois, Gov. Bruce Rauner signed a law in September that allows fourth-offenders to obtain an interlock-restricted license instead of license suspension for 10 years. While putting offenders back on the road may sound counterintuitive, MADD supports ignition interlock use over license suspension because studies show that 50 to 75 percent of drunk driving offenders continue to drive on suspended licenses. We’d rather require drivers to prove they are sober before they drive than to simply hope they will choose to not drive on Illinois roadways. Next door in Missouri, Governor Jay Nixon signed a law that requires proof of compliance before an ignition interlock can be removed — further strengthening the state’s all-offender interlock law.
Additionally, several states have pending legislation that requires mandatory ignition interlock laws for all drunk driving offenders, and Congress is close to passing the federal highway bill, which helps fund the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS) and anti-drunk driving grant programs.
On Oct. 21, MADD National President Colleen Sheehey-Church traveled to Harrisburg to ask members of the Pennsylvania House drunk driving task force to pass an interlock bill for offenders with a .10 and above. The Senate passed the SB 290 in September, and Colleen made an impassioned plea to House legislators to pass the Senate bill without changes or further debate. The members agreed to move the bill forward in the coming weeks.
In Massachusetts, Colleen and Executive Director Mary Kate DePamphilis will testify Nov. 9 before a Joint Transportation Committee to advocate for an all-offender bill. Meanwhile, work continues in New Jersey, where an all-offender ignition interlock bill was conditionally vetoed by Gov. Christie after passing the House and Senate with overwhelming support.
This is a short story about the life and untimely death of a son and a sailor named Paul Anthony Brittingham …
Paul was born on July 30th 1987. He was our first born son. Paul grew up in a very loving Christian home with a younger brother named Heath. He was a very outgoing and loving child that made friends very easily. That loving child grew into a man in what seemed to be an instant--to know him was to love him.
He joined the Navy in January 2008 and graduated boot camp in March. After graduation he was stationed at Pensacola Naval Air Station, Pensacola Florida. He was studying to be an Air Frame Mechanic. We were overjoyed with his career decision and that he was so close to home. He became his class leader and was a very proud Navy Man! He exuded pride and confidence. But that was to be short lived.
On Friday September 19, 2008, the Sailors were given liberty, and Paul’s fiancé went to the base to pick him up for a weekend with her and our family. They made a stop at Wal-Mart and bought a movie and were headed to the beach that night. They were 1.5 miles from Wal-Mart when they were struck by a drunk driver. Paul was killed instantly, and his fiancé sustained several injuries. The driver of the other vehicle died on the way to the hospital. He was found to be 3.5 times the legal limit.
That day many lives were forever changed. We lost a son, and though his fiancé has recovered from the physical wounds, she still struggles with the emotional trauma. That day we all had to begin a new journey, a journey without Paul. His hugs, his infectious smile and his presence were ripped from our world.
The journey we are on now includes sharing Paul’s story as often as we can with others. We speak for schools, law enforcement, company safety meetings, military stand downs and at churches. We speak anywhere we can to bring awareness to all that the decision to drink and drive has real consequences, life changing consequences. And we speak to tell them that this is preventable!
Paul received full Military Honors and was revered by several of his shipmates and instructors. Paul’s memory will forever be with us …until the day that we join him in heaven.
Terry and Alisa Brittingham
MADD Hosts First National Day of Remembrance
On December 3rd, MADD locations across the country will honor those killed, injured or emotionally devastated by drunk and drugged driving and underage drinking consequences with a National Day of Remembrance. This is a chance for the public to come together in communities nationwide and online, and show that victims and survivors of these senseless tragedies are not alone – that they will always have a place at MADD.
From candlelight vigils to victim tributes to online efforts, morning gatherings to luncheons to evening events, and more, MADD is organizing community functions from coast-to-coast to remind people that their grief, their losses, their pain is not forgotten—that it matters and that MADD is here to help.
Every day in America, 28 people are killed in drunk driving crashes. That’s one person every 52 minutes. And every 2 minutes, someone is injured in a drunk driving crash. Annually, more than 10,000 people are killed and another 290,000 are injured as a result of drunk driving. Countless victims, survivors, families and loved ones are left to cope with the aftermath of these violent – and 100% preventable – crimes.
This December 3rd, you can help MADD draw attention to the toll this preventable crime takes on our communities by participating in a Day of Remembrance event near you. Drunk and drugged driving victims are also invited to post an image of their loved ones using #MADDremembers via their social media accounts or on MADD’s Facebook page. They may also visit madd.org/placesetting to dedicate an online place setting tribute to honor loved ones.
Victims and survivors of drunk and drugged driving and underage drinking consequences are not alone – there is a shockingly high number of them. And inexplicably, more are unwillingly added to that tragic group every day.
Together, we can reach and serve more victims. Visit madd.org/dayofremembrance for more information about MADD’s National Day of Remembrance and to find a local event you can attend.
For the past 13 years, officers, employees, friends, and families of the Irving Police Department have participated in the annual Walk Like MADD event in Dallas, TX. This is an event that the Irving Police Department has been proud to say that we’ve held the title of “top law enforcement team” for 13 consecutive years. To date, we have raised over $70,000.00 to help MADD’s efforts to support victim’s assistance, activism, and youth alcohol awareness programs.
The IPD team was formed to honor Irving’s first officer killed in the line of duty—Officer Glenn Homs #518. Officer Homs was tragically struck and killed by a drunk driver on July 3, 1993. Participating in the walk is a way of remembering Officer Homs’ sacrifice to the citizens of Irving and recognizing the dangers of drunk driving. The IPD team sells team t-shirts to help raise funds for MADD and to “stand out” in the crowd on the day of the event.
The IPD MADD Walk team has gone under the name “Zero Tolerance” for the past 13 years and is headed up by the Department’s DWI Unit. The DWI Unit is staffed with 5 full-time members and 1 Sergeant. We chose this name to represent how the men and women of the Irving Police Department tackle drunk driving throughout the City…with zero tolerance!
We do a variety of proactive enforcement presentations, youth alcohol awareness talks, and fatal vision demonstrations throughout the City to raise awareness of the dangers of drunk driving. The DWI Unit’s efforts to reduce alcohol related fatalities and serious bodily injury crashes has demonstrated a dramatic reduction in the number of people who are killed on our highways by drunk drivers.
I have been an active member of the DWI Unit since its inception in 2003 and have been the team captain of the annual MADD walk for the past 12 of 13 years. I have volunteered on the Event Committee for 12 years. In 2010, I was asked to be the Chairman of the Walk and helped to make it one of the most successful Walks in the history of MADD North Texas.
My goal as team captain has been to motivate my team members and to try and increase the number of law enforcement teams that participate in the walk each year. It becomes a fun competition between our agency and other law enforcement agencies to see who will gain the coveted title of “top law enforcement team” and who will raise the most money for this charitable event.
Every year we tell our team members to lace up their tennis shoes, break out their sporty shorts, don their new Zero Tolerance t-shirt, and come join us for the annual 5K MADD Walk!
We’d love to see you there!
Officer Stephen W. Burres, III #839
Irving Police Department DWI Unit
MADD is proud to announce the seven teens selected for the organization’s 2015-16 National Teen Influencer Group, serving as positive role models for choosing not to drink alcohol under the age of 21. These distinguished teens will help educate and motivate their peers, younger kids and even adults to take a stand against underage drinking, and to never ride with an impaired driver.
Congratulations to our 7 Teen Influencers! Learn about each Teen Influencer.
Several National Teen Influencers have experienced the devastating consequences not only of underage drinking, but also drunk driving or drugged driving. MADD’s National Teen Influencer Group provides a platform for these teens to not only empower those around them, but also to help save lives
MADD’s National Teen Influencer Group is part of the Power of You(th) program, sponsored by State Farm®, designed to equip teens with the information and resources to help them avoid drinking alcohol before 21.
For more information about the Power of You(th) program, or to download the teen booklet called The 411 on Teen Drinking, visit www.madd.org/powerofyouth.
Friends Don’t Let Friends Ride with a Drinking Driver
MADD and State Farm Insurance recently conducted a survey of adolescents (15-20) to determine the frequency and their attitudes of riding with a drinking driver1:
- About 1 in 3 youth surveyed (ages 15-20) have been a passenger with a drinking driver at least once in the past year.
- 1 in 4 youth are willing to ride with a driver who has been drinking.
- 3% have ridden with a drinking driver 10 or more times in the past year
- Who was the drinking driver they were riding with?
- 22% a friend under the legal drinking age
- 35% a friend over the age of 21
- 28% a parent/guardian
- 13% another family member
- Over 60% believe their friends have been a passenger with a drinking driver in the past year, but only 20% have intervened to keep their friend(s) from getting in a car with a driver who had been drinking.
New research from Pennsylvania State University’s Department of Biobehavioral Health2 shows that youth play a lead role in influencing a friend’s choices to ride with a drinking driver. The stronger students think their friends will disapprove of them riding with a drinking driver, the less likely they will actually do it.
That’s why MADD is asking teens this month to take to social media and #ProtectUrFriends. By snapping a selfie with their friends, they are sending a clear message to their friends that in addition to not drinking before 21, getting in the car with a drinking driver is never okay. Research shows this powerful message could save a teens life.
This October, MADD is also encouraging teens to download its teen booklet, which contains tips to help them resist peer pressure and take a stand against underage drinking. And as a bonus, every one who downloads the teen booklet in October will be entered to win weekly prizes and one grand prize -- an Apple Watch Sport edition.
HealthDay reported today on new research published by the American Academy of Pediatrics on the risk factors in early adolescence that later lead to driving under the influence and riding with a drinking driver.
Of note in the research are five things that, if they happen at age 14, predict that as an older teen, they will commit DUI or ride with a drinking driver:
- If they’ve been exposed to peer marijuana use
- If they’ve used alcohol in the past month
- If they have positive beliefs about marijuana
- If there is marijuana use in their family
- If they perceive alcohol as prevalent
This new, third party data reinforces much of what MADD has said for years – that underage drinking is dangerous and can lead to serious, often deadly consequences. One of MADD’s most important mission prongs is the prevention of underage drinking.
It is crucial not only for parents to talk with their children about underage drinking prevention, but also for teens to understand the important role they play in protecting themselves and their friends from underage drinking and related consequences, such as riding with a drinking driver.
That’s why MADD developed two programs to make the prevention of underage drinking a community-wide priority. The first program, Power of Parents®, equips parents and caregivers with the tools they need to have early, ongoing conversations with their children about the dangers and consequences of underage drinking. The second program, Power of You(th)®, empowers teens to take a stand and help their peers, adults and entire communities understand the importance of underage drinking prevention.
This October, MADD and community partners across the country are promoting the Power of You(th) program’s #ProtectUrFriends campaign, empowering teens to protect themselves and each other from the dangerous and often deadly consequences of underage drinking. Together, we can create a community-wide priority to prevent underage drinking and its tragic consequences to keep our teens, roads and communities safe.
For more information about MADD’s underage drinking prevention programs and this October’s #ProtectUrFriends campaign, click here.
Teen alcohol use kills about 4,700 people each year — more than all other illegal drugs combined. Teens have so much to look forward to – homecoming, graduation, pursuing a career, having a family and more. The choices teens make today will impact the rest of their lives.
Thanks to the support of National Presenting Sponsor State Farm Insurance®, MADD developed its Power of Youth® program to empower teens – individually and in groups – to influence each other, younger kids and even adults to take a stand against underage drinking, and to never ride with an impaired driver.
For the 2015 fall launch of Power of Youth, MADD asks teens to #ProtectUrFriends by talking to their peers about not drinking alcohol before turning 21, or getting in the car with an impaired driver. Teens can post a photo with their friends and use the hashtag #ProtectUrFriends to be a part of the conversation.
One important resource for teens is The 411 on Teen Drinking. This booklet contains useful information to help teens resist peer pressure, influence other teens to not drink before age 21 and never get in the car with someone who’s been drinking. From now until October 31, anyone who downloads the booklet will be entered to win weekly prizes and a grand prize, an Apple Watch Sport!
By Kelli Donlen
Three days after turning 15, Zachary Gonzalez was killed by a drugged driver while riding his bike with friends. The driver was found to have valium and cocaine in his system and had five cocaine pipes in his vehicle that all tested positive. His only concern following the crash was getting his “oxys” (OxyContin) out of his car.
Kelli Donlen, Zachary’s aunt and legal guardian, was notified of the crash by the police and told Zachary was killed on scene. They were not allowed to go to the site of the crash and struggled because they were never able to confirm for themselves that it was indeed Zachary. Kelli said she wanted to believe it was a mistake if she didn’t see her nephew for herself. It was Zachary’s friend who confirmed for her that it was indeed Zachary.
Shortly after, Kelli learned that the cause of the crash was placed on Zachary because he and his friends were riding their bikes on a non-pedestrian road. The impaired driver was charged with a DUI and possession of drug paraphernalia. He was sentenced from one to six months in jail and was released on probation after only serving one month. Since his release, he has since been arrested for being drunk in someone else’s car and plead to Disorderly Practice; however, it was not a violation of his parole.
Kelli and her husband, who is the brother to Zachary’s mother, obtained custody of him at the age of 9. Kelli shared Zachary’s father was killed by a substance impaired driver when Zachary was three years old. When Zachary was 9 years old, his mother passed away from leukemia and since that time, Kelli described Zachary as quiet and keeping to himself, trying to make sense of all his losses. Shortly before turning 15, he was beginning to come out of his shell and enjoying life again. For his 15th birthday the family took a trip to Disney World and Kelli said they had a wonderful time. They returned home on Saturday evening and it was the next day, Sunday, January 19, 2014 that Zachary was killed.
The tears and heartache still have not gone away for Kelli, they never will. She struggles with the fact that the man who killed Zachary never should have been driving. She struggles with never having the chance to say goodbye. She does her best to remember all the good times with Zachary but finds herself always thinking of the “firsts” that Zachary will never experience such as prom, graduation, college, driving, marriage and having children. She tries to stay busy and loves talking about Zachary with others. Zachary was active on the wrestling team at his school and the family founded The Zachary Gonzalez Scholarship Program in his honor. Every year they will give out two, $1000 scholarships to students on the wrestling team. They gave out their first two scholarships this past April and plan to do so for as long as they can. The family also participated in their first WALK Like MADD event on September 19th in Philadelphia. Their team, Team Zach, had over 30 members and raised over $1000. Kelli is also working with Representative John Galloway on House Bill #1076 in Zach’s honor that asks for heavier charges in substance impaired crashes when a death of injury occurs. Kelli said she will never stop advocating for stiffer laws and honoring Zachary’s life by telling others about him.
The Haiken family began volunteering with MADD New York in 2009 after a crash that hit too close to home, like many of our dedicated volunteers. A family friend and 43-year-old mother of two was killed on her way to her job at LaGuardia Airport in New York. The driver was uninjured and had two prior DUI convictions.
A middle school student at the time, Sarah Haiken immediately saw the senselessness of the tragedy and vowed to do something about it. She began volunteering with her local MADD chapter and in 2012 – as a high school freshman – Sarah was selected to join MADD’s first-ever National Teen Influencer Group.
She and her mother, Cheryl, visited the MADD National Office, where Sarah took part in the teen review committee that helped shape what is now the cornerstone of MADD’s Power of You(th)® program – “The 411 on Teen Drinking” booklet. Since that time, Sarah has remained actively involved locally as well as nationally by returning to the National Teen Influencer Group each year. This year, Sarah is a senior and beginning her 4th year as an active member of the group. Not only has Sarah’s involvement with MADD grown over the years, but so has her family’s. Last year, her mother Cheryl became Chair of the MADD New York State Advisory Board.
Sarah is forever going above and beyond to participate in and expand MADD’s mission. This summer, she helped conduct a Power of You(th) training at MADD’s National Conference in Washington DC; conference attendees ranked this session in the top 5 for the entire conference.
Also this summer, Sarah contacted and requested an internship with Dr. Robert Turrisi at Pennsylvania State University, the lead researcher behind MADD’s Power of Parents program. Dr. Turrisi accepted Sarah into his program, in part due to her dedicated work with MADD.
As she undertakes her senior year of high school, Sarah has elected to become more involved in saving lives and preventing underage drinking by continuing to work through Pennsylvania State University. She will conduct her own research study this year under the supervision of Dr. Turrisi, focusing on the motivations behind high school students who are willing to ride with a drinking driver. Sarah will begin her research at the end of September and hopes to release her findings by the end of the school year.
What started as a teen coping with a tragic loss by reaching out to MADD has evolved into a young woman with a bright future and a true difference maker – inspiring her family, her community, and people across the country to create a future of No More Victims™!
Saturday, September 26th might have been a rainy day in Atlanta, but it by no means dampened the spirits of those in attendance at the 11th Annual Walk Like MADD and MADD Dash event at The PGA Tour Superstore in Kennesaw.
Thanks to the generous support of the Atlanta Falcons, Mercedes-Benz and many others, more than 1,100 registered participants and volunteers braved the pouring rain to remember those who have been killed or injured by drunk driving; to inspire people to turn their pain into purpose; and to commit to a future of no more drunk driving victims.
Atlanta Falcons Owner Arthur Blank (whose fiancée, Angie Macuga, co-chaired the event) spoke to attendees before the Walk and Dash kicked off, then led a team of 150 participants in the event.
“Having the support of Mr. Blank and the Falcons as well as so many more in the Atlanta community plays a crucial role in delivering MADD’s mission locally and across the country,” said MADD CEO Debbie Weir, who attended Saturday’s Walk. “We want victims and survivors to know they will always have a place at MADD, and we want entire communities to know that together, we can make sure that drunk driving ends here.”
State Representative Geoff Duncan (District 26) spoke at the Walk as well. Representative Duncan is a strong supporter of MADD and is working tirelessly to strengthen Georgia’s underage drinking and drunk driving laws in order to better protect the public and keep Georgia roadways safe.
“I know firsthand what a crucial lifeline MADD provides to victims and survivors of drunk and drugged driving,” said Atlanta Walk Like MADD Co-Chair Amy Kissam Sands, whose 22-year-old stepson, Tyler, was killed by an underage drunk and drugged driver. “Having Representative Duncan and other valued and trusted community partners join us to make sure these resources are available to those who need them will make a difference to so many people.”
KSU Police Chief Roger Lee Stearns, and Kennesaw Mayor Mark Matthews also attended the Walk.
More than 80 Walk Like MADD events take place across the country every year, and each one plays a vital role in raising much needed funds and support that stays in local communities to prevent drunk driving and serve victims.
The Atlanta Walk, in particular, had strong turnout and support from highly engaged youth in the community. Elementary, middle and high school students as well as college students showed up in force to get the message out that youth engagement is crucial in order to prevent underage drinking and related consequences; and that they can help play a pivotal role in eliminating drunk driving as well.
Thanks to the extraordinary work of Atlanta Walk Like MADD co-chairs Angie Macuga and Amy Kissam Sands, along with many MADD Georgia staff and volunteers, Saturday’s event surpassed its $100,000 fundraising goal and raised more than $155,000.
A big thank you to everyone who participated in the Atlanta Walk Like MADD. Your commitment means that more lives will be saved, and more victims will be served in Georgia.
When a loved one is killed in a traumatic event such as a substance impaired driving crash, the emotional impact of the event is intense and overwhelming for those left behind. Many survivors may question why they survived when others did not. This is commonly known as survivor guilt, and many victims and survivors of substance impaired driving crashes experience this.
Survivor guilt occurs when an individual feels he or she should not continue to live or go on in the event of another’s death. It is a normal part of grieving, particularly when the death is sudden and traumatic.
When someone experiences survivor guilt, they often try to make sense out of a senseless situation. This endless search for meaning leads to many questions, among them “Why did my loved one die, but not me?” These and other questions are quite common and are characteristic of survivor guilt.
While survivor guilt is a normal part of grieving for some, if after a period of time the guilt affects you in ways that are preventing you from moving forward in your mourning, it is time to seek help. Addressing survivor guilt means learning to live with it successfully. The scar of the crash will never go away and there will be times – such as the anniversary of the death, or the crash date – that are going to bring up a lot of feelings.
If you or someone you know is experiencing survivor guilt, here are some tips to help down the path towards healing:
- Acknowledge and accept your feelings; it is okay to be happy about surviving the crash
- Be patient as your feelings evolve over time; there is no time limit on grief
- What you are experiencing is completely normal and part of grieving
- All of your feelings are an important part of the grieving process and should not be suppressed
- Celebrating your own life does not in any way diminish your sorrow and grief over those who were lost
- Talk about how you feel with a peer or other victims and survivors who have a similar experience
- You are not alone in your feelings
- Recognize that while you survived the crash and others did not, that fact may always remain a mystery
- No one can answer the ultimate question “Why?”, so try not to spend too much time seeking an answer to the unanswerable
- Look to find a purpose in your life and meaning to what you do as a result of having survived
- Remember the good times with your loved one
- Find ways to keep the memory alive of those who were killed; this can be done on a small scale by creating a memory book, or by donating to or participating in larger memorial events
- Do not let feelings of guilt keep you from responding to your own needs
- Do not punish yourself
- If feelings of guilt are overwhelming, seek the help of a professional grief counselor
It is possible for victims and survivors experiencing survivor guilt to enjoy life again without the continued guilt of surviving. It’s important that they understand that doing so does not diminish the tragedy that has occurred or the fact that they would do whatever they could to turn back time and change what happened.
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 2013, 200 child passengers (under age 15) were killed in drunk driving crashes—representing 17 percent of all child traffic fatalities. And of those, 61 percent were passengers in a vehicle with the drunk driver.
MADD is urging lawmakers to enact legislation to protect our most vulnerable population, children. Please email your representatives letting them know that you want a stronger DUI child endangerment law in your state and that every child deserves a non-drinking designated driver.
Please take action and share this image to help keep our children safe on the roads.
Technology is being developed right now to prevent anyone from driving drunk. Ever again. But we need your help today to ensure that this lifesaving, cutting-edge technology becomes an available safety option for all new cars.
Click here to contact your legislators, calling on them to sponsor the ROADS SAFE Act, which will fund the research that will bring this technology to the masses, with the power to save thousands of lives a year.
It’s called the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS). The first test vehicle with DADSS technology has launched. It is a car that cannot be driven drunk because it automatically detects the driver’s blood alcohol level through special sensors as soon as the driver gets inside. If the driver is at or above the legal limit, the car will not operate. It’s that simple.
Now, legislation has been introduced in both houses of Congress – by our allies Senator Tom Udall and Representative Nita Lowey – that makes sure the research on this lifesaving technology is completed, and the technology gets into cars where it can save lives.
Developing this technology has always been the core of our Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving®. And we can see the day when you wouldn’t think of buying a car without it – just like seat belts or airbags. We can achieve a future where drunk driving never claims another life.
Your past support is what got the attention of allies in Congress, like Sen. Udall and Rep. Lowey. It’s because of your voice that we got broad support for initial research into DADSS. Now we need to get every member of Congress on board for the next phase of research that will help to bring this lifesaving technology home to end drunk driving everywhere.
Thank you so much for all you do to save lives.
In honor of our 35th anniversary today, we are pleased to share with you our special 35th Anniversary Edition of MADDvocate.
In this issue, you’ll find compassionate and uplifting articles, including MADD Volunteers, Healing Hearts by Helping Others, the story of how three women turned their family tragedy into a passion to prevent drunk driving, Honoring Loved Ones, about new ways to honor victims and survivors, and much more.
This special edition of MADDvocate also includes an interactive timeline for MADD’s 35th Anniversary, as well as a update on MADD’s four mission prongs, some of the key highlights for each, and how they work together to create a future of No More Victims™.