Victims & Legislators Call for Passage of Federal ROADS SAFE Act for Lifesaving New Car Technology
New Data Shows Drunk Driving Deaths Cut in Half Since MADD's Founding, Yet Still Represent a Third of All Highway Fatalities
WASHINGTON, Sept. 23 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Thirty years after a grieving mother started the movement to stop drunk driving, and a decade since the successful passage of the lifesaving national .08 BAC limit, hundreds of victims and activists from across the country today rallied at the nation's Capitol to mark Mothers Against Drunk Driving's (MADD) 30th Anniversary and to unveil its MADD 3.0 Action Plan, calling on Congress to pass legislation to eliminate drunk driving in America. The pending legislation will fund critical research on new technology to turn cars into the cure for drunk driving. Since the organization was founded in 1980, drunk driving deaths have been reduced by half, yet new government data shows that 10,839 people died from drunk driving crashes last year alone, representing almost one-third of all highway fatalities.
MADD 3.0 Action Plan
The research-based MADD 3.0 Action Plan announced today calls on Congress to urgently pass two key bills, which MADD National President Laura Dean-Mooney said will use new technology to "virtually eliminate drunk driving once and for all." The two key pieces of federal legislation addressing this new technology are:
- The ROADS SAFE Act, included as an amendment to the Motor Vehicle Safety Act, will fund research of new technology using non-intrusive alcohol detection systems to determine when a driver is legally impaired at .08 BAC or higher, and
- Ignition Interlock Sanctions, included as part of the House Surface Transportation Reauthorization Bill, urging more states to pass ignition interlock laws that require convicted drunk drivers to "blow before they go," using an alcohol detection device to start their vehicle. Currently, 13 states have enacted ignition interlock laws.
The ROADS SAFE Act for advanced alcohol technology research is included in the House and Senate versions of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act. Both measures have been approved in committee and are awaiting action on the House and Senate floor. The bills would authorize five years of funding for ongoing research and development of a program know as DADSS – Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety. DADSS is supported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the world's leading auto manufacturers.
Formula to Eliminate Drunk Driving
"Clearly we have made tremendous progress in creating safer roadways in the past 30 years with nearly 300,000 lives saved, but still, one out of every three people will be involved in a drunk driving crash during their lifetime. New technology is the key to a future without drunk driving," said newly appointed MADD CEO Kimberly Earle as she outlined the 30th Anniversary MADD 3.0 Action Plan. "We call on Congress to urgently pass the ROADS SAFE Act and Ignition Interlock Sanctions; it's literally a matter of life and death."
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimates advanced technology could save more than 8,000 lives each year. New Mexico was the first state to require interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers and has witnessed a 30 percent reduction in DUI fatalities. If these results were replicated nationwide, interlocks could save thousands of lives per year. "It's simple," said Earle. "ROADS SAFE plus Interlock Sanctions equals the elimination of drunk driving."
Advanced alcohol detection research included in the proposed ROADS SAFE Act and State Ignition Interlock Legislation are two of the three elements of MADD's Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving®, which was launched in November 2006 with broad support; the other element is high-visibility enforcement to catch drunk drivers and discourage others from driving drunk.
Today, MADD also unveiled a 30th Anniversary Congressional Checklist showing MADD's legislative accomplishments, including victories such as the 21 minimum drinking age law and the .08 blood alcohol limit, and "to do's" such as passage of the ROADS SAFE Act and Ignition Interlock Sanctions.
"My generation has seen MADD's extraordinary grassroots movement help save hundreds of thousands of lives and change drunk driving from an 'accident' to a crime," said Dean-Mooney, who was left to raise her infant daughter when her husband Mike was tragically killed by a drunk driver with a BAC of .34, in 1991. "For my daughter and future generations, America can finally make drunk driving a thing of the past through new technology that turns cars into the cure for this 100 percent preventable problem."
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood joined the event, recognizing MADD for its impact in making America's roadways safer. "Our roads may be safer than ever, but they are not safe enough," said Secretary LaHood. "There are still far too many preventable deaths on our roadways and an alarming number of people still make the dangerous decision to drive drunk. Safety will always be my top priority, and we will continue to work closely with Mothers Against Drunk Driving and our law enforcement partners to do everything possible to get drunk drivers off the road."
At the event, MADD praised key members of Congress for their leadership in seeking legislation to eliminate drunk driving in America. Recognized sponsors of the ROADS SAFE Act included Senator Tom Udall (D-NM), Senator Bob Corker (R-TN), and Representative John Sarbanes (D-MD), as well as supporters including Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY), Senator David Vitter (R-LA) and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA). House Transportation & Infrastructure Chairman Jim Oberstar (D-MN), Ranking Member John Mica (R-FL), along with Representative Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) were honored for their lifesaving efforts to include Ignition Interlock Sanctions in the House Surface Transportation Reauthorization Bill, currently being considered.
"I congratulate MADD on 30 years of tireless advocacy to make travel on our highways safe for all," said House Transportation & Infrastructure Chairman Jim Oberstar. "Our nation's roads are markedly safer as a result of MADD's efforts, with hundreds of thousands of lives saved since the organization's founding. But there is still more work to do. I will continue to press for policy changes to eliminate drunk driving, such as the all offender ignition interlock measure in the Surface Transportation Authorization Act. With the support of MADD and other, like-minded organizations, we will succeed."
Ranking Member John Mica echoed, "Congratulations to Mothers Against Drunk Driving as they celebrate 30 years of working to improve safety on our nation's roads and highways. MADD continues their outstanding work in raising awareness of the dangers associated with drunk driving and has been instrumental in helping save thousands of lives over the past three decades."
"Drunk driving is a completely preventable tragedy that destroys thousands of lives each year in the United States," said Senator Tom Udall. "New Mexico has shown leadership in confronting this epidemic in our state by finding new ways to keep drunk drivers off the road. I am proud to sponsor the ROADS SAFE legislation because by encouraging the development of new technology to keep Americans safe—like we did with seatbelts and airbags—we can help make drunk driving a thing of the past."
Senator Bob Corker added, "Drunk driving destroys thousands of lives in our country every year. The ROADS SAFE Act would invest in new technology research to improve highway safety and help put an end to these preventable crashes."
"With the support of MADD, Congress has worked to reduce drunk driving and save thousands of lives every year," Senator Frank R. Lautenberg said. "The grave risk that drunk driving poses to our families and communities spurred me to write the laws that lowered the legal blood alcohol limit and set the national drinking age at 21. Today, we are working to enact new laws including one that will require ignition interlocks to stop repeat drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel."
Speaking Out to Save Lives
Ten years after MADD successfully rallied support for the passage of lifesaving legislation to lower the drunk driving limit to .08 BAC during its 20th anniversary, hundreds of victims and supporters were back in full force on Capitol Hill today calling on Congress to take action in support of the technology that will end drunk driving. Activists carried personal photos of loved ones injured and killed in drunk driving crashes—images to be used in the creation of a MADD 30th Anniversary Victim Tribute Sculpture—and signs reading: "ROADS SAFE Act + Ignition Interlocks = An End to Drunk Driving!"
Those who shared their personal stories at today's rally event, kicking-off a three-day MADD 30th Anniversary National Conference "Saving Lives – Serving People: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow," being held in Washington, D.C., included:
- Hollywood Olsen, Mechanicsburg, Penn. – An amazing 14-year-old victim turned activist injured in an alcohol-related crash at the age of five
- Lenny Rosado, New York City – Father whose young daughter Leandra was killed by riding in a car with a drunk driver, spurring him to push for tougher drunk driving laws such as Leandra's Law
- Nina Walker, San Diego, Calif. – MADD National Board Member and grandmother left to raise her grandson after her daughter was killed by a drunk driver
The MADD movement began in 1980 with two chapters (California and Maryland) and is now a national organization with approximately two million members and supporters. Since its founding, "designated driver" has become a household term, and numerous key lifesaving federal and state anti-drunk driving and underage drinking laws have been passed, including passage of the 21 Minimum Drinking Age Law in 1984, and passage of the national drunk driving limit to .08 BAC during the organization's 20th anniversary year in 2000. For more about MADD milestones and history, visit http://www.madd.org/about-us/history/.
About Mothers Against Drunk Driving
Founded by a mother who lost her daughter in a crash, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is the nation's largest nonprofit working to protect families from drunk driving and underage drinking. MADD also supports drunk driving victims and survivors – serving one person every 10 minutes – at no charge. To learn more about MADD, visit www.madd.org or call 1-800-GET-MADD. For victims/survivors, call 1-877-MADD-HELP.
SOURCE Mothers Against Drunk Driving