Discover How One Mother’s Dream Led to Safer Roads and a Yearly Initiative to Protect Drivers Nationwide
It’s been 37 years since one mother started Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), a nationwide drunk driving prevention movement. MADD started in 1980 with Candace Lightner after her 13-year-old daughter, Cari, was killed by a three-time, repeat drunk driver; 25,000 people also died in alcohol-related crashes that year. Today, MADD notes that its efforts have saved more than 330,000 lives and from now through the New Year, you will start hearing more and more messages about the dangers of drinking and driving. Some of the most dangerous days of the year occur between Thanksgiving and Jan. 1.
Tie One On for Safety Highlights Dangers of Drinking and Driving
It’s commonplace to decorate one’s house during the holidays, but MADD is asking drivers to decorate their vehicles as well. A campaign started in 1986, Tie One On for Safety encourages drivers to display a MADD red ribbon or decal in a visible location as a reminder that it’s never ok to drink and drive. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 28 people are killed every day in vehicle crashes involving an alcohol-impaired driver. Simply stated, one life is lost every 81 minutes. That translates into more than 10,000 people dying because someone got behind the wheel after drinking, putting themselves and others at risk. Colorado is not immune to this issue either.
The Colorado Department of Transportation has been keeping tabs on alcohol-related traffic fatalities for the past 10 years. During that time there have been multiple auto accident fatalities over New Years, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. While MADD is concerned about drinking and driving all year round, Tie One On for Safety runs from Nov. 1 – Dec.31.
Young Drivers and Motorcyclists at Greatest Risk
Young drivers are at a greater risk for drinking and driving, especially driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. In 2015, 3 in 10 drivers, or 28 percent of those involved in fatal alcohol-related crashes, were between the ages of 21 and 24. Not far behind were drivers 25 to 34-years old and then 35-44-year-old drivers. These three age brackets were involved in 78 percent of all fatal crashes involving BAC levels of 0.08% or higher.
Motorcyclists, especially cyclists ages 35-39 with a BAC of 0.08% or higher, had the highest percentage of traffic deaths in 2015. What makes 0.08% BAC so dangerous? That BAC level, which equates to about four drinks, causes a lack of concentration, impaired perception, poor vision and reaction time and poor self-control and judgment, just to name a few side effects. All of that can and does lead to fatal decisions, whether you are behind the wheel of a vehicle or motorcycle.
Make Safety the First Priority Every Time
During the holidays, there will be a lot of celebrating, so whether you are attending a social outing or hosting one, safety must come first. There are things everyone can, and should do, including:
- Choose a designated driver before leaving for a party
- If you don’t have a designated driver, or if your driver decides to have a drink, call a cab or ride with another designated driver
- Offer guests plenty of non-alcoholic drink choices
- Serve plenty of food and encourage guests to eat
- Pay attention to your guests, and if you suspect someone has had too much, call him/her a cab, or have a sober driver bring that person home
- Never serve alcohol to minors
Taking responsibility for yourself and those you socialize with is the first step to encouraging safety during the holidays and throughout the year.