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MADD About Drunk Driving: How Moms Made a Difference

Just one death caused by drunk driving is too many. This is the philosophy of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), an organization that is dedicated to reducing drunk driving victims to zero.


When Candace Lightner’s 13-year-old daughter, Cari, was senselessly killed by a drunk driver, Lightner founded MADD to change faulty drunk driving legislation [source]. Since their inception in 1980, MADD has helped decrease drunk driving fatalities by 50%. Even though this is a major triumph, sadly, drunk driving remains the main cause of death on the road today.

MADD addresses distracted driving in multiple capacities. While the organization’s name suggests drunk driving is their focus, MADD advocates against drugged driving and teen drinking as well. Drugged driving and teen drinking are directly linked to increased risky driving.

Drunk driving has significantly decreased since 1980 thanks to MADD, but the problem is far from solved. MADD suggests four main solutions to combating dangerous impaired driving issues:

Law enforcement education
Drunk driving prevention
Drugged driving prevention
Teen drinking prevention

DUI police officers serve as the main gatekeepers against reckless drunk and drugged driving. MADD simultaneously highlights officers who went above and beyond with drunk driving education and prevention. Drunk driving prevention stems from support from law enforcement with stringent DUI checkpoints.

While police officers are on the front lines, MADD advocates for legislative change and technology invention. The organization celebrated raising the legal drinking limit to 21, as teens are much more likely to become involved in a drinking related accident. Eliminating teens’ access to alcohol is the most effective method to prevent drunk driving deaths.

In addition, advanced vehicle technology supports law enforcement’s mission; ignition locks can save lives. A study has confirmed in-car breathalyzers to have lowered deaths caused by drunk driving accidents by as much as 15%. Of course, education and awareness for parents, teens, and citizens alike can save even more lives.

Victim Assistance

If you do experience a drunk or drugged driving tragedy in your family, MADD offers options. Filing a case against a drunk driver who caused an accident will be a traumatic experience. It isn’t easy to navigate the criminal justice system while mourning alone.

MADD offers a 24/7 hotline to get help for those affected by a drunk driving tragedy. You can call MADD for emotional support. Support groups also exist to help connect survivors who have had a similar experience. Drunk driving accidents can be just as financially draining as they are emotionally. MADD also has a victim assistance fund to help with funeral or legal fees.

Coronavirus Hurdles

When stay-at-home orders began in March of 2020, law enforcement speculated a potential decrease of drunk driving as a result. What was once a potential silver lining became another point of concern this year: drunk driving seems to have only increased. MADD speculates that people are likely consuming alcohol and drugs at home. The organization hopes that this does not mean more people get behind the wheel while intoxicated.

Because the pandemic has not yet ended, statistics are not yet widely available for how much drunk driving has increased due to the coronavirus pandemic. Law enforcement anecdotally notes that they have seen a jump in drunk driving. Once this data is released, MADD can offer better solutions as to how we can best combat pandemic-related drunk driving deaths.

The holidays are already a heightened period for drunk driving. Although government officials largely recommend people stay at home this year, impaired driving risks remain. MADD will continue their mission despite these new hurdles so no family must lose their daughter like Candance Lightner did. For more information on drunk and drugged driving prevention, visit the MADD website.

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