This year marks a bittersweet anniversary for the most well-known victim’s advocacy group, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). It is bittersweet because 25 years ago the organization was formed with the mission to stop drunk driving, support the victims of the violent crime of DUI and prevent underage drinking. While the organization has achieved some real successes, it is a sad fact of life that many people still insist on driving while intoxicated, even after knowing the facts.
MADD was started in 1980 by a woman in the Sacramento area who was outraged when her 13-year-old was killed by a repeat DUI offender. Since then, the grassroots organization has grown to span the entire country. It aims to educate people about the dangers of drunk driving, as well as encouraging future drivers to take seriously their responsibility behind the wheel.
Laurel Stadler, chapter director and current chapter president for the MADD charter in Nevada, said efforts in the Silver State have been going strong since 1992. The charter is headquartered in Dayton, but has satellite facilities in Reno and Winnemucca. She explained that while the numbers are decreasing nationwide, Nevada is still ranked among the top 5 percent of states in the nation for DUI fatalities per 100,000 miles driven.
Stadler explained that MADD’s success over the past 25 years has changed a culture that used to look the other way when it came to drunk driving. This change has occurred through a variety of different programs. Providing speakers for community groups allows victims of DUI to tell their story and continue the education process among all different age groups. A similar speakers’ program provides a victim impact panel where DUI offenders attend a class and hear the stories told by victims and survivors of DUI. In fact, Stadler said DUI offenders who have attended the victim impact panel have overwhelmingly expressed the difference hearing these speakers has made for them. Often the victim impact panel provides the most inspiration for making a significant life change and a decrease in repeat behavior.
Another program MADD is working toward developing is called 66percent.org. Stadler explained that 66 percent of young children killed in drunk driving accidents are riding with the drunk driver. The first goal for this program is to get the public educated on this statistic. The second is to encourage people to make responsible plans, and in fact to have a “plan B” that provides alternate ways to get children home safely if the responsible party has been drinking.
MADD has made huge impacts across the country, including contributing to the passage of more than 2,300 drunk driving laws and dramatically increasing awareness of the problem. In 1980 the number of deaths in the U.S. due to drunk driving was 28,000. Today, the number of deaths due to drunk driving has dropped to just over 17,000 per year.
MADD’s next challenge is overcoming underage drinking. Stadler said underage drinking “has reached epidemic proportions.” By 12th grade 75 percent of young adults have tried alcohol and are progressing in their alcohol consumption. In Nevada, the numbers are higher and have reached as high as 90 percent.
MADD is still working diligently toward the mission of “no new victims,” and is gearing up for the holiday campaign called the “Tie One On For Safety” Red Ribbon campaign. The organization is also in need of those who would be interested in speaking, particularly those who have been victims of DUI and are willing to share their experience. Individuals interested in volunteering may contact Laurel Stadler.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving
P. O. BOX 1354
DAYTON, NV 89403