Highway construction, traffic snarls and speed enforcement – traffic reports, although often useful, rarely rise to the level of “lifesaving.”
But the Total Traffic & Weather Reports on several iHeartRadio channels do just that thanks to Regional Vice President, Operations Southwest, John Winder. He donates public service announcement air time to Mothers Against Drunk Driving®.
“Being in the traffic reporting business, I have obviously been aware of the carnage that drunk driving can cause,” he said. “We talk about crashes, we learn why these things happen and we see the results.”
Sadly, Mr. Winder, like so many others, is one of the two out of three people impacted by drunk driving.
In 1992, his oldest sister and his niece and nephew jumped in their car to run a quick errand. A repeat offender, whose license was already suspended, hit them head-on after a day of drinking. His sister and three-year-old nephew were killed in the crash. His niece suffered lifelong injuries.
“It was the first time in my life I had lost anyone who was a child, and I was devastated,” he said. “My mother lost her child and her grandchild. This wasn’t like when someone dies after an illness. It was a sudden and dramatic loss that started with a hysterical call from my mother, a woman I had rarely heard cry.”
The offender was sentenced to 10 years in prison for vehicular manslaughter. Mr. Winder began a process of healing that started with his faith and the passage of time and eventually led to his motivation to donate airtime to MADD.
The spots range from holiday-related campaigns, like MADD’s Tie One On For Safety® or Mother’s Day campaigns. President Colleen Sheehey-Church recorded the 10- and 15-second PSA. The spots run on iHeartRadio channels across the country.
“MADD mission is very traffic related. These spots go beyond ‘here is where it is slow’,“ he said. “This is more impactful in people’s lives. Our name isn’t on the spots. No one knows we do this, but it feels good.”
Since August 2015, Total Traffic & Weather Reports has donated nearly $3 million in donated airtime to MADD.
“Drunk Driving is 100% avoidable. I just hope people are listening,” Mr. Winder said.